In 2014 Japanese Architect firm Takeshi Hosaka completed The Shonan Christ Church. The structure stands in a rich green residential area, which is 10-minutes away from Shonan beach on foot. The chapel of the 50-year old church became too small, and it was therefore decided that a new church would be constructed on a different site.
Shonan Christ Church Technical information
- Architects: Takeshi Hosaka
- Location: Kanagawa, Japan
- Topics: Churches, Concrete
- Site: 416.50 m2
- Building area: 175.96 m2
- Floor area ratio: 175.96 m2
- Building height: 6656 mm
- Collaborators: Structures: Hitoshi Yonamine / Ove Arup & Partners
- Japan Ltd /Acoustic: Ayako Hakozaki / Nagata
- Project Completion: 2014
- Photographs: © Nacasa & Partners
The six curved surfaced roofs at different heights allows natural light to pour down from the ceiling and represents the six days of Creation in the Bible genesis and Mass celebrates the seventh day.
– Takeshi Hosaka Architects
Shonan Christ Church Photographs
Text by the Architects
The architectural design was a one-storied building with a restrained height to harmonize in a low-rise residential area. It aimed to create a space appropriate to prayer and worship with the six curved surfaced roofs at different heights. This allows natural light to pour down from the ceiling. It conveys the message that six roofs represent the six days of Creation in the bible genesis, and Mass celebrates the seventh day.
Direct sunlight and indirect light are regulated depending on the time of the day. There was no direct exposure to sunlight at the time of service, whereas the rest of the time, there was.
Therefore, this construction was designed to receive an appropriate amount of indirect light during service time. So, the light was simulated using computer software at intervals of 30 minutes on the designed days during 12 months and manipulated depending on the day’s time.
There would be a space under a soft light at the time of service throughout the year. Towards the end of the service, direct sunlight begins to draw a ray of light on the wall surface. There is only one line of direct sunlight in the afternoon, and around 3 o’clock, the light comes in like a shower, creating a dynamic environment.
(Stiffening) Ribs of sound and light
Uneven longitudinal ribs were carved at a random rhythm on the chapel’s exposed RC concrete wall, and dark gray acoustic boards were placed between the ribs. A solution to the requirement was reached by achieving balance. This was possible using concave acoustic boards to make it easier to hear the priest’s sermon and Bible Readings and improved the sound of ecclesiastical music such as hymns with RC convex surfaces. Flutter echo was reduced by rib pitches placed at random. A light grey light shines directly on the convex surface stands out due to its contrast with the dark grey concave surface. Based on the idea that modern church construction has to provide a space that facilitates the Bible Readings, it came to our minds; we should achieve direct sunlight shining through a dark space.
Under Shonan’s sky, we can participate in a service, read and hear the words of the Bible and have the opportunity to pray in a space under dynamic direct sunlight in the afternoon. Direct moonlight shines through the pitch-black chapel at night during the full moon. We hope the conception of time and space will harmonize with the local nature and scenery, and people will gradually come to love the construction.
Outdoor terra-cotta cross
Reverend Furuya picked up 5KG of sand with his own hands in the previous church premises and used it to make a terra-cotta cross. This is because he wanted to emphasize the 50 years of Shonan’s Christian church and the congregation’s desires.
Open rainwater gutter
Slits were made on the outside wall at the lowest point of circular arcs to create open rain gutter. As a result, it could be enjoyable to see rain flow through the gutters, and despite the abundance of pine leaves, these do not block the gutters.
Direct sunlight and prayer
Direct sunlight alters the space in the church in different ways creating the perfect environment for prayers. After the service, it becomes a space for a small number of people, and one to two or three rays of sunlight shine throughout the afternoon.
Indirect light and service
The passages of the Bible are read and heard in mass. It is inappropriate for the Bible and people to be exposed to direct sunlight during service. Indirect light is appropriate for service. The space was designed to receive indirect light during services from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Only one thin ray of direct sunlight shines through the chapel when the hymn is sung towards the end of service
The Creation Relief Tiles
Relief tiles about the creation showing motifs of God’s hand during the six-day Genesis were introduced in the north-south walls under the six roofs. Unbaked tiles were engraved with original pictures from the Genesis and baked one by one. The color of the tiles is a semi-transparent light blue inspired by the morning haze. The pictures of the six days were slightly different in design depending on orientation. Finding pictures in the chapel and various rooms, including the restroom, kid’s room, and pastor’s room, added to the enjoyment.
Shonan Christ Church Plans
Shonan Christ Church Image Gallery
About Takeshi Hosaka Architects
Takeshi Hosaka Architects is a Japanese Architecture studio based in Tokyo established by Takeshi Hosaka and Megumi Hosaka in 2004. The studio endeavors to create architectures with natural elements found in the environment, such as direct and indirect sunlight, to create dynamic landscapes with nature.