A Forest Inside A Chapel in Nagasaki

04.02.2019

©Yu Momoeda Architecture Office

Agri Chapel is designed to melt into the landscape that surrounds it, built in the middle of a nature reserve in the prefecture of Nagasaki. Observed from a slight distance, its large bay windows allow for a slight view into the immaculate interior with its raw wooden structure echoing the natural forms of the surrounding trees. Its ‘fractal’ branch structure may appear fragile, however it in fact supports more than 25 tonnes, freeing up the floor space entirely. Without an alter, the chapel is a space of unencumbered contemplation.

This ancestral woodworking technique, without vices or nails, is called kanawa tsugi, and is renowned for its resistance to the natural disasters which frequently hit Japan. Throughout the centuries, it has been mainly used to construct Buddhist temples such as the Horyu-Ji chapel dating back to 607 in the prefecture of Nara.

The architect behind the Agri Chapel, Yu Momoeda, was drawn to this system of joinery for the way in which it could harmonise with the surrounding nature. The final form of the chapel, which resembles a tree canopy, is a nod to the soaring archways of the neighbouring Oura-Tenshudou, the oldest wooden Gothic church in Japan, built by French missionaries in 1864.

©Yu Momoeda Architecture Office

©Yu Momoeda Architecture Office

©Yu Momoeda Architecture Office