atelier FCJZ: glass chapel
atelier FCJZ: glass chapel atelier FCJZ: glass chapel
dec 12, 2011

atelier FCJZ: glass chapel

‘glass chapel’ by atelier FCJZ, nanjing, china all images courtesy atelier FCJZ

beijing-based architect yung ho chang of atelier FCJZ has designed the ‘glass chapel’, a church for nuptial rituals overlooking foshou lake in nanjing within the jiangsu province of china. with a backdrop of mountains and lush vegetation, the light and transparent arching form recedes into the site’s encompassing nature. the intent was to create an elevated, spacious and column-free interior space which may be easily constructed by hand, resulting with a reticulated shell structure formed with glass blocks and reinforced cement mortar, developed and tested for this project.

model construction process – wooden formwork orientation completed

a grid containing a 30 millimeter gap between the masonry units is filled with steel bars and cement to provide complete lateral stability. a continuous ‘S’ curve evens out at the top of the catenary curve transferring loads through the building’s cross section, spanning 8.6 meters and reaching a height of 30 meters.

the design team built a 1:1 scale model of a 3 meter high section of the exterior within the garden adjacent to the practice’s studio, located near the yuanmingyuan park, northwest of beijing’s urban center. secured with a personal foundation, a wooden formwork was used to lay 245 blocks, each measuring 20cm by 20cm by 10cm. after the mockup’s binding was set and the frame was disassembled, the two month long process to create the module serves as adequate proof for the new construction method’s strength for future applications.

model construction process – wooden formwork bracing completed

model construction process – wooden formwork completed

model construction process – paying off completed

model construction process – steel reinforcement completed

model construction process – brick laying completed

model construction process – formwork disassembly completed

low angle south west view

(left) southwest view (right) north view

detail image © designboom

low angle interior view


yung ho chan showing birgit lohmann editor-in-chief of designboom the materials and test models near his studio images © designboom

snow covered view


construction process

exterior perspective

entry perspective


site plan

floor plan / level 0





conceptual form generation

form generation

diagram of mockup section

construction system

project info:

project: glass chapel– cipea (china international practical exhibition of architecture) location: south zhenzhuquan area, north foshou lake, zhongzhuang reservoir, nanjing, jiangsu province client: nanjing foshou lake architecture and art development co. ltd architecture design: atelier fcjz principal architect: yung ho chang project architect: lu bing liu project team: ling zhou, lin wang, bo feng consultant: nanjinggongye university, civil engineering institute building area: 240 sq. meters building stories: ground level 1 structure type: glass block + reinforced cement mortar reticulated shell structure system design period: 2010~ proposed construction completion: 2012

  • very cool, but as one who has laid up glass block in a curved wall formation, I can tell you from experience that this would be a b___h to build

    dbkii says:
  • look at the works of Eladio Dieste…master in catalan vaults like this one

    carlosrosso says:
  • @dbki….so what if it’s a bitch to build. just do it, takes a few weeks; looks beautiful and lasts a hundred years or more. sublime.

    nicey says:
  • I see a lovely hothouse.

    Sammyjoe says:
  • Very impressive,pure and simple.
    I love it, keep up the good work guys!

    Stephan says:
  • I see a building amazing in appearance. But comfortable could hardly be experienced in it.

    DX says:
  • wow…..

    johannes hoffmann vienna says:

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