Willoughby Uniting Church

The new church and facilities completed in December 2010, provide for contemporary worship in a setting that expresses the church community over 130 years. The building is people friendly, heritage sensitive, inspiring, clear in circulation, sensitive to the environment, contextually pleasing, respectful of neighbours, easy in function and completed with a quality that will continue to contribute to the urban domain for many years.

The design has a delightful play of positive and negative spaces that have clearly defined roles within the unified scheme. The Victorian Manse has been revitalised as a hub for the day to day running of parish work; the existing chapel stands respectfully in space, continuing not only as a geographical focus of the site but as a constant reminder of the site’s ecclesiastical heritage; and, the new church building evokes a message of progressive church worship in a welcoming friendly atmosphere. The negative spaces between these three elements are key in setting performance and connectivity. The negative spaces are pedestrian friendly, sun drenched, defined with passive and active zones. The three elements evoke individual importance through their distinct styles and massings. The Manse and the new church balance and define in scale the edges of the site, then, working toward the centre of the site, open space allows the existing chapel to rise in height and central dominance. The neutral backdrop of planar glass and the referenced shape of the atrium behind the chapel acts to add to the importance of the site’s focus.

The NBRS+PARTNERS team has worked closely with the client to understand their needs and aspirations. The resultant design is responsive and inspirational.


NBRS+PARTNERS is a people focused, research based studio that aims to enrich lives. By developing creative design partnerships our portfolio spanning public and private sectors exhibit an understanding of the people whose lives will be affected. Above all NBRS seeks to design environments that will have positive life changing affect. Architecture is the cornerstone of NBRS+PARTNERS global interdisciplinary design practice with expertise in Architecture, Heritage, Interiors, Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, ESD and Research. Since 1968, NBRS has developed a research led international architecture practice based in Sydney Australia. NBRS is recognised for its innovative, award-winning design excellence and comprehensive expertise. Our design-minded, 50 strong team’s unique focus on creative partnerships helps to realise solutions, with extraordinary results.

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