japanese architect yu momoeda has completed a chapel whose interior comprises a structural system based on fractal geometries. located in nagasaki, a japanese city on the northwest coast of kyushu island, the scheme is surrounded by a large national park and seeks to respond to its natural setting. ‘we tried to connect the activity of the chapel to the natural surroundings seamlessly,’ explains the architect.

the chapel’s interior comprises a structural system based on fractal geometries
image by yousuke harigane (also main image)



inside the chapel, yu momoeda — who leads momoeda yu architecture office — created a pendentive dome by stacking a series of tree-like units. starting with four 120 millimeter square pillars, the ‘trees’ decrease in scale as they ascend upwards. the second layer is composed of eight 90mm units, while the final layer contains sixteen 60mm square pillars. constructed using traditional japanese construction methods, the design not only mimics the surrounding woodland, but also ensures that more floor space remains available.

surrounded by woodland, the design seeks to respond to its natural setting
image by yousuke harigane



from a construction standpoint, four conventional walls undertake the horizontal force, while the trees can support a roof load of up to 25 tons. ‘in nagasaki, there is the oldest wooden gothic chapel in japan known as ‘ohura-tenshudou’,’ continues yu momoeda. ‘this chapel is not only a famous tourist point, but a place loved and cared for by the townsfolk. we tried to design the building as a new gothic style chapel, by using japanese wooden system.’

the architects created a pendentive dome by stacking a series of tree-like units
image by yousuke harigane

starting with four 120mm square pillars, the ‘trees’ decrease in scale as they ascend upwards
image by yousuke harigane

the configuration ensures that more floor space is available for visitors
image by yousuke harigane

the wooden structure can support a roof load of up to 25 tons
image by yousuke harigane


project info:


name: agri chapel
site area: 17,927.55 sqm
building area: 125.27 sqm
total area: 125.27 sqm
eaves height: 7,745 mm
roof height: 8,395 mm

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