The wedding chapel design by studio Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co in 2013 is more than a space of communion. It is an architectural metaphor for the union of two souls under Heaven’s watch – two entangled spirals meeting at the top overlooking the Inland Sea of Japan, representing the individual paths of the bride and groom coming together as one.
Located in the garden of ‘Bella Vista Sakaigahama’ Hotel in Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan, the chapel makes the most out of its surrounding natural views. Glimpses of the sky, ocean, mountains, and distant islands appear and disappear along the two paths. They can be seen also from the interior space – the chapel’s altar, faced by 80 seats in front of a symbolic tree. The sky, sun and water form a background for the altar.
The architectural concept evolves around the two spirals which form a continuous ribbon – the main feature of the project. Its symbolic role is doubled by the functional one – they lean on each other, forming a free-standing structure. They also undertake the role of conventional architectural elements, such as walls or ceilings, thus creating the core space – the wedding chapel.
The structural system was developed in collaboration with Ikuhide Shibata of Arup. The mutually supporting spirals form a stable structure, restraining horizontal and vertical vibrations, working as a three dimensional hoop. The inner spiral is connected to the intermediate solid steel posts, bearing the vertical loads, while the exterior spiral is coupled as an overhang. The materials were chosen to lighten the structure, working around its tensions and vibrations, or withstanding weather conditions – zinc alloy and wood panels, a pendulum-type base isolation device for light buildings, or glass panels held with dot point glazing (DPG) arms, moving freely during torque produced by horizontal forces.
This wedding chapel design won the “best chapel” award from Wallpaper in February, 2015. It is an interesting piece of engineering and an ideal exotic setting for weddings, especially for romantics who share a love for nature.
By Ana Cosma