Ribbon Chapel

CompanyHiroshi Nakamura & Nap
Lead DesignerHiroshi Nakamura
Design TeamARUP
PrizeArchitectural Design / Small Architecture

The chapel is located midway on a hill enjoying a panoramic view of the Inland Sea of Japan. Mainly used for weddings, the chapel stands in a garden of a resort hotel in Hiroshima. By entwining two spiral stairways, we realized a self-supporting structure of unprecedented composition that embodies the act of marriage in a pure form. The beautiful sceneries of the islands could not be seen due to the abundant trees around, but we did not to cut down the trees to open up the views. We thought if the chapel stood as an independent object, the scenery of the landscape would be rather ruined. Instead, we designed a chapel with viewing platform by only thinning out the surrounding trees, so that the chapel would subtly peak out from the midway of the mountain. A single spiral is very unstable for it can sway side to side and also shake in the vertical direction. However, by joining the two spiral stairways that support one another, we created a self-supporting structure. Just as two lives go through twists and turns before uniting as partners, the two spirals seamlessly connect at the summit 15.26m high to form a single ribbon. Inside, the aisle extends towards the pre- existing symbol tree and 80 seats with the views of the ocean are placed. In the process of walking the aisle, every step awakens memories and emotions. The simple architecture is composed merely of paths, along which the sceneries of ocean, mountains, sky, and distant islands successively appear and disappear. Although it is a small architecture, by extending the passage to a total length of 160m and emphasizing the experience of wedding, we aimed for the architecture to nestle close to the emotions of the bride and groom as well as the celebrants.