Form mimics function at the beautiful Sayama Forest Chapel in Japan. Resembling hands clasped in prayer, the breathtaking chapel provides a quiet, contemplative space for visitors of the Sayama Lakeside Cemetery Park. Steeply angled and triangular, the wooden structure designed by Hiroshi Nakamura of NAP Architects blends into the forest and creates a strong connection between the building and its natural surroundings.
The architect first planted additional trees and created the building around them. While the adjacent Community Hall building has a more horizontal configuration, with its circular plan and radial wooden beams supported by steel columns, the chapel is designed to facilitate spiritual reflection by focusing on the vertical. The steep angular roof clad in approximately 9,000 cast aluminum panels seems to emerges from the ground-an extension of the forest-and grows out of seven bays located around the plan perimeter.
Each bay is wrapped with a curved wall and tilted inward, leaving room for adjacent trees to grow freely. The structure consists of 251 pairs of sloping wooded rafters joined in an upside-down V by a hidden steel plate. Concealed ridge beams are attached to the building’s concrete foundations with a steel ring and form a continuous surface that curves and forms the interior that reaches up to 30 feet in height. The walls and roof become narrower the higher up they go, subconsciously leading the eye upwards toward the sky.
Photos by Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners Inc