Finnish architects have created multiple levels of harmony in St. Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel, a structure whose composition is as much a melting pot as the functions it brings to the community. Sanaksenaho Architects built the chapel to unite the built and natural environment, as well as to provide a comfortable place for music, art exhibits, and worship.
The 300-square-foot structure is striking without even stepping foot aside. The tall, pointed outer walls are plated with copper. It is no misstep that the siding chosen is one that will weather and turn green over time: this was the design’s intent, as it will allow the chapel to blend in with the hues of the surrounding forest. The other main element of construction is pine wood, which is assembled curving upward and elicits imagery of old ships battling harsh tempests at sea. The architects stress that the third element, natural light, is just as important as the others. Surprisingly, the structure does not appear to have many windows, yet the inside simply swims in light.
St. Henry’s interior serves many purposes for the local community. A place of worship with a multitude of pews, an art exhibition space with ample room for displaying creations, and a small music venue with undoubtedly mesmerizing acoustics. The art chapel is also located near a cancer-care center, which is owned by St. Henry’s church and provides a calm and tranquil space for patients and visitors. The location is prime for peaceful contemplation, worship and meditation, and celebration of local artistry. As well, it will only become more beautiful intriguing as it ages amongst the trees.
Images via Jussi Tiainen