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Predisposed as we are to loving all things that involve curving wood, natural light and minimalism, it is not surprising we fell head over heels in love with this exquisite chapel. It is made with 20 tons of unadorned wood and not a single nail or metal fitting.
It is called Capela Árvore da Vida- Seminário Conciliar de Braga — The Tree of Life Chapel at St. James Seminary in Braga, Portugal.
Built inside the existing seminary, the chapel was designed by architects António Jorge Cerejeira Fontes and André Cerejeira Fontes, with sculptural work by sculptor Asbjörn Andresen.
All three are with the Braga-based Imago, also known as Cerejeira Fontes Architects - Imago Atelier de Arquitectura e Engenharia. Andersen is a Norwegian sculptor, who lectures and works in Sweden, Norway and Portugal. The Cerejera Fontes brothers are both engineers and architects currently pursuing PhDs in Urban Planning.
Other participants in the beautiful chapel project include sculptor Manuel Rosa, painter Ilda David, the organ builder Pedro Guimarães, Italian photographer Eduardo di Micceli and civil engineer Joaquim Carvalho.
The chapel functions as an intimate prayer room, a place of quiet contemplation for those living in the seminary. Every detail of the structure and its adornments draws its origins from the Bible. Even the overall floor plan and structural solutions echo the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.
There is an intimate and gentle connection between the outside world and the chapel itself, with an inviting, fluid pathway leading into the space, instead of a categorical doorway with a heavy, excluding door.
The structure resembles a hut, a boat, a honeycomb or a forest. The wooden slats — that also provide shelving for books — and the open ceiling allow light to play its magic at all times of the day. This is a time-lapse video of the building process here. - Tuija Seipell
All images sent to TCH exclusively by photographer Nelson Garrido.
The stunning Sunset Chapel in Acapulco, Mexico, was completed only recently, but it has already gained much attention for its stark and arresting design by Esteban and Sebastián Suárez of Mexico City-based BNKR Arquitectura.
It is a memorial chapel that will eventually be surrounded by a "garden" of crypts. With its bare-concrete structure that appears eternal, and its slatted walls and glass cross that allow the light to perform its daily magic in the space, Sunset Chapel looks and behaves like a modern-day Stonehenge. Mysterious and stark, yet reassuring and calming; protective, yet part of the surrounding nature.
The elevated shape was partly dictated by an enormous boulder that already ruled the site, and by the wish to allow the spectacular view to be visible from within. At only 120 square meters in size, the chapel evokes a surprising sense of strength. - Tuija Seipell
Imagine any city as if it were the human body and think of all the crucial aspects of it which keep us living. Within a city you could consider the people to be the blood; the thing which circulates constantly and gives life. Transport systems are the vessels which allow that blood to move and public infrastructure is the brains of the operation which facilitates the growth and movement of blood cells.
Equally important though is that essential organ called the heart. From a geographical sense, the centre of the city is considered the heart however more importantly it's the spaces within a city which have character, inspire and shape society that are indeed the most heartfelt.
Rainbow Chapel, located inside the G+ Park in Shanghai is a new addition to a large organ of cultural landscape which has redefined this large bustling Chinese city. It's a collaborative effort between award-winning design agency COORDINATION ASIA and logon urban.architecture.design; who have so successfully used the credo of 'developing art spaces which nourish a city' to form their concept.
The team from COORDINATION ASIA have featured previously on The Cool Hunter with their designs for the Shanghai Office and Kids Museum of Glass. They continue to tackle interesting social projects in a market which is ever growing and developing; Rainbow Chapel certainly is no exception to this as founder Tilman Thürmer explains its conception:
"Over the years of operating the museum park we experienced an increasing demand to have a new type of venue that caters to the Chinese public, now avid for living a creative life, gathering new and exciting experiences and mixing art and lifestyle. There was a lack on the Chinese wedding market that mainly offers city centre locations and classic settings and we went on to fill that gap."
Designed around the Shanghai Museum of Glass the G+ Park recently celebrated its 4 year anniversary by unveiling a lifestyle addition to its premises that includes the Rainbow Chapel which is attached to the museum park. It's a first for China and provides an alternative to classic wedding venues which appeals greatly to young and creative couples looking for something different.
It's only fitting that the structural form of the Rainbow Chapel is a circle, as essentially a circle is an infinite line. This was indeed the intention of having a circular form within a square as it alluded to the nature of the connections made inside the place. It was also intended to represent fundamental Chinese symbolism with the circle representing fullness and unity, whilst the square stands as a symbol of honesty and virtue; when combined they lend a sense of perfection and provide good-luck.
The building in total covers 390 square meters and is a vivid and fascinating exploration of the endless possibilities of glass.
The façade of the building appears to be kaleidoscopic as it comprises of 3060 elements, using 65 different colours and mixture of both transparent and semi-transparent glass. As the sun moves around the structure and the lighting changes so does the effects of the glass on the interior; creating a clever moving instillation. This effect brings the chapel to life.
Sitting just next to the chapel is a banquet hall which covers 1200 square meters, built upon a former industrial glass workshop. This workshop has been converted into an elegant and sophisticated space which marries in well with the Rainbow Chapel. Whilst extremely elegant it's also highly versatile and is capable of facilitating a wide range of events from weddings and anniversaries to concerts.
The Rainbow Chapel is modern, it's sleek and highly artistic; most impressively though it maintains these aesthetics whilst still having character, heart and a deep connection to those using it. It's a perfect cultural response to a gap in society and a heartfelt addition to Shanghai City - David Mousa.
We hesitate to use words such as charming or sweet here as they might imply excessive cuteness, but the recently completed tiny chapel on Cyprus does have a welcoming, approachable appearance that made us contemplate tiny, cozy spaces.
However, we were also immediately aware that this is sanctuary, not some dwelling for friendly trolls.
We were also drawn to reflect on visits to small Greek mountain villages where tiny white churches cling to seemingly inaccessible cliffs.
And glancing inside and seeing the gorgeous hanging lighting fixtures, we remembered our visits to stalactite caves on several Greek Islands.
Cyprus-based, 35-year architect Michail Georgiou, with collaborator Theresa Kwok, has created this 56 square-meter (602 sq.ft.) gem of a Greek Orthodox chapel using an experimental building technique.
The light-weight structure consists of a steel frame and a thin ferrocement shell.
The 5.5-meter (18-foot) high doorway adds a sense of welcome and transparency, as one can see through the structure that from this angle appears as if it were just a dome of a temporary structure.
We are always excited by thoughtful design that manages to combine the traditional and the contemporary techniques and languages. This is right up Georgiou’s ally as he holds a MSc in Adaptive Architecture and Computation from the Bartlett and a MArch from the NTUA.
In addition to being a practicing architect with both residential and public projects, he also lectures on Computational Design and Fabrication at the Department of Architecture in the University of Nicosia (Cyprus). We expect to see more innovative work from him. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography by Charis Solomou