atelier poem unveils the ‘chapel of tears’ settling close to a stream, along the nature trail that leads to the cascade de fontany, in france. the wooden project has been constructed by the designers themselves, along with the help of some volunteers, and has been chosen as the winner of international competition ‘festival des cabanes’ for a self-built construction in the french alps.

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all images courtesy of atelier poem 



atelier poem built the chapel with the aim of maximizing the use of economic resources, complying with sizing constraints imposed by the festival announcement, and using only one material: wood. adopting this simplicity and the primary context as a starting point, the project site gives shape to the architecture, while forming a close bond between built and organic nature.

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the building, designed as a meditation chapel, finds its own dimension in this dialogue with nature, like a new point of view opening towards the waterfall. upon approaching the chapel, visitors go through a sensory experience, trying to find their own way to familiarize themselves with the chapel, interacting with the space and the contrast of lights and shadows.

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the chapel looks like a high and narrow parallelepiped, cut lengthwise at the middle section, as if the water of the stream had eroded the matter during its course. this 20 cm thick cut runs through the entire covering and joins the two openings, placed on the short sides. these last are aligned, respectively serving as the front door and a window that frames the view of the waterfall. the long sides, which are parallel to the creek, are blind and punctuated by a scan of wood elements of different thickness. the interior is left open, exposed to weather changes and some light effects amplified by a sequence of panels placed on the roof. 

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the chapel has been made entirely of spruce wood – the planks and the strips are naturally cured and were supplied by a local sawmill, using commercial thicknesses and sizes. the outer shell consists of burnt wooden boards, and contrasts chromatically with the interior space where the material is left natural. the specific wood burning technique that is used in this project, and is practiced in the area, allows to preserve it over time from atmospheric and natural agents. in this way, it remains stable, durable, and hydrophobic in a totally natural and ecological way, without changing its own internal structure.

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project info:


name: chapel of tears
architecture office: atelier poem
location: cascade de fontany, saint-ferréol, france



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom