As a key requirement of the project the retention, repair and full refurbishment of the existing buildings has been given priority. The Church, the Manse and Dundarroch form the core of the project with new buildings linked to the listed church and manse restricted to single storey. The design of the new buildings, particularly the extensions to Sannox church, draw inspiration from Skellig Michael, an early 7thC Celtic Christian monastic community off the west coast of Ireland with all buildings, including ‘beehive’ structures, built in natural stone. The existing buildings will be retained in a white finish, as they are at present, to ensure that these are prominent and eye-catching. The external walls of the new buildings will be constructed in dry stone walling in all conspicuous areas and undulate in plan and elevation to reflect the rolling nature of the surrounding countryside.
The stone chapel which forms the centre piece of the new cloistered garden will have a monastic quality to induce contemplative forms of prayer and worship. Stained glass panels will include Celtic geometric patterns where these are synergous with the Christian ethos of the centre. Although the exterior of the buildings present a robust and protective aesthetic the idea is reversed within the courtyard. The floor of the undulating circulation space would be finished in materials similar to those used in the courtyard to reduce the visual interface between inside and outside through the glass wall.
The geometry of the healing garden is highly symbolic based on a Celtic trinity knot superimposed upon a Celtic cross. The trinity knot depicts the coequal and indivisible nature of God. The cross forms the central point of the geometric pattern from which the main activity spaces radiate. The high cross is strategically placed to be visible from all areas. The Celtic Christian ‘theme of three’ – Cave, Refectory and Road – will be applied to three parts of the garden surrounding the Beehive Chapel. Other aspects of the garden will support the process of spiritual and physical healing. The High Cross will tell the story of God’s song of Sannox, past and present.