Sayama Chapel

In the afternoon, I went out into the countryside again – this time by car – to see the Sayama Chapel, a recent project, completed in 2014 by a young-ish architect, Hiroshi Nakamura, who previously worked for Kengo Kuma.   He was initially selected to design a Community Hall to serve the interests of those visiting the cemetery, a satisfyingly simple project consisting of a slightly asymmetric cone which frames the view onto the surrounding countryside.

The roof:-

The view out of the hall:-

Owing to the success of this building, he was asked by Hide Osawa to design a new chapel further up the hill alongside and looking into deep woods.   It’s both a free structure and very ambitious, attempting – and indeed succeeding – in creating a sacred space, part pure architecture, without any inscriptions or ornament or indication of use;  part nature, with gigantic trunks formed out of big pine planks and which meet together above one’s head in a form of symphonic abstraction.   As with the Community Hall, the building frames the view through to the unkempt rough wood beyond behind what might otherwise be the altar.   We sat there, absorbing and experiencing the strongly meditative characteristics of an architecture which requires no commentary.

The first view of the roof formed out of thin aluminium tiles:-

The view north:-

The tiles:-

The view inside:-

Lastly, we scrambled down the adjoining bank to see it from inside the wood:-


2 thoughts on “Sayama Chapel

  1. Joan says:

    That is beautiful. Those shingles are something special – as were the ones clothing the Assemble workshops at Sugarhouse Yard, Stratford, now sadly gone.

    I’m struck in looking at your Japanese photos how I view them through a very particular prism. I have never been to Japan but, like many other parents, have spent many hours watching Japanese anime movies, in particular the ones made by Studio Ghibli. I’m sure I have watched the Oscar winning Spirited Away more than a dozen times, for example. Your photos make me realise how accurately those animations depict the beauty of Japan.

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