the japanese studio of hiroshi nakamura and NAP architects has recently shared images of the sayama forest chapel which forms part of the sayama lakeside cemetery complex in the saitama prefecture, japan. the modest timber structure is located at the threshold of dense forest and a small clearing, next to a scarcely used road stretching along the cemetery that leaves no room for pedestrian traffic or reflecting. 

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
the roof forms projecting lines that frame openings on all sides
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc (also first image)

 

 

the complex- the final resting place for various religions practices- led NAP architects to seek a structure that would create an architecturally secular space for accommodating the mourning. the japanese gassho-style structure of two opposing walls leaning against one another was utilized to fulfill several conceptual and structural purposes. the gentle tee pee-like form alludes to the form of the hands made when praying. its subtly angled walls form an intimate space that follows the form of the body when praying, as if the structure were to be praying as well. working in conjunction with the plan, the section tapers towards the top of the roof to avoid the branches of the forest canopy. the floor plan meanwhile occupies the triangular site with circular voids that preserve existing trees. 

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
the understated elevation features the silvery roof tiles and triangular gassho-style openings that frame various views of the forest
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc

 

 

the hairline roof accentuates the form, composed of fractalizing lines which naturally form between ceiling and floor a curving surface of vertical wooden planks. the resulting interior features a dark slate floor that subtly slopes towards the triangular-framed glass windows. the timber structure forms rhythmic patterns along the walls that accentuate the curves and the height of the space, always ending at each wing in the gassho form. the roof system is comprised of hand-crafted aluminum tiles that span from the top of the ridges to the ground level- a neutral backdrop amidst the natural landscape that similarly accentuates the curves of the form.

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
the minimalist interior allows the grieving to focus their energy towards the exterior forest
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
the slate floor, timber structure and aluminim roof come together with very clean details
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
the vertical planks in between openings form naturally curved tapering columns
image © hiroshi nakamura and NAP architects

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
hand-crafted aluminum tiles clad the roof system
image © koji fujii | nacasa & partners inc

hiroshinakamuranap_sayamaforestchapel
exposed wooden structure during construction reveals the skeleton of the building
image © hiroshi nakamura and NAP architects

 

 

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