Sayama Forest Chapel

CompanyHiroshi Nakamura & Nap
Lead DesignerHiroshi Nakamura
Design TeamARUP
PrizePlatinum in Architectural Design / Small Architecture

Sayama Lakeside Cemetery is open to various religions and denominations. It is located in a nature-rich environment adjacent to the water conservation forest, and the site itself is in front of a deep forest. I envisioned an architecture that reflects on the way of life as it lives by the water conserved by the forest, and eventually returns to this place after death. Thereupon, I found the forest to be the subject of prayer that is mutual to various religions and conceptualized an architecture that prays to the forest while surrounded by trees. The site is a small triangular plot of land. Therefore, I have decided to create a space that devotes to the forest that is transcendent in its existence, by tilting the wall inward to avoid the tree branches and leaves. It forms a traditional Japanese Gassho- style structure composed three- dimensionally as two leaning beams set against each other are developed in every direction. The roof is covered with cast- aluminum tiles with ripple-like textures each made by hands of craftsmen according to the complex three-dimensional surface. As the altar faces the forest in the south east direction, during a memorial service in the morning, the light through tree leaves and branches pour onto the altar as light shining through a stained glass. The floor inclined towards the forest by 1 centimeter guides people towards the departed and the forward bending posture for praying. The patterns of slate and the seams in between extend towards the vanishing point deep into the forest to help one with concentrating the mind on the forest. When one prays, a small warm space is created as the fingers gently join. It is as if that small space of prayer was taken out to form the architecture. As people pray, so does the architecture.