Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

The Sayama Forest Chapel in Saitama, Japan by Japanese architect Hiroshi Nakamura has a  “V” shape timber structure inspired in traditional Japanese structures called “Gassho-zukuri,”. Hiroshi Nakamura creates a highly durable wooden structure taking care of environmental issues in a forested vicinity.

Sayama Forest Chapel technical information

The pillars supported each other by forming the upside down “V” shape structure called “Gassho-zukuri,” a traditional Japanese structural form that is similar to the shape of two palms put together in prayer. By developing this form in all directions, the roof structure itself bears both vertical and lateral forces. This eliminated the need for seismic walls, and enabled the new type of Gassho-zukuri.

–  Hiroshi Nakamura

Sayama Forest Chapel Article by Hiroshi Nakamura
Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

The site is located on the boundary between the forest and the grave area, and we created a chapel that is surrounded by trees and offers a prayer to the forest. We planted trees around the perimeter of the triangle site so that the chapel would overlook the forest through the trees. As the upper portion of the walls were leaned inward in order to avoid the tree branches, the pillars supported each other by forming the upside down “V” shape structure called “Gassho-zukuri,” a traditional Japanese structural form that is similar to the shape of two palms put together in prayer. By developing this form in all directions, the roof structure itself bears both vertical and lateral forces. This eliminated the need for seismic walls, and enabled the new type of Gassho-zukuri. While structural element, we demanded the leaning pillars to be refined as the finishing material, and by designing the details to hide the metal joints and ridge beam, the composition made of only the sequence of pillars extending from the earth was realized.

Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

© Koji Fuji / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Next, the roofing needed to be solved in order to provide eternal protection for such complex structure. We worked with the local craftsmen and developed cast aluminum panels, each sized in 180 x 200mm and 4mm in thickness. It is the minimum thickness for durability and maximum thickness for bending by hands to accord to the curvature of the roof. As a result, each panel had different ripple textures that reflect craftsmen’s spirits.
The floor inclines slightly towards the altar, causing visitors to unconsciously face the altar and pray towards the forest behind it. When praying, each finger is gently put together and a small warm space forms inside. This architecture shapes as that small space of prayer was taken out of hands as it is. As people pray, so does the architecture.

Sayama Forest Chapel Plans

Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Sayama Forest Chapel Gallery of Images

More Works from Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Cite this article: "Sayama Forest Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP," in ArchEyes, January 15, 2016, http://archeyes.com/sayama-forest-chapel-hiroshi-nakamura-nap/.