British architect David Chipperfield's firm David Chipperfield Architects has completed a new chapel and visitor centre in Hyogo prefecture of Japan, which constitutes a series of fragmented red-coloured concrete volumes aligned with a central staircase.
Commissioned by the Boenfukyukai Foundation, the project - called Inagawa Cemetery chapel and visitor centre - is located on a steep site in the Hokusetsu Mountain Range of the Hyogo prefecture, approximately 40 kilometres north of Osaka.
Project name: Inagawa Cemetery chapel and visitor centre
Location: Hyogo, Japan
Client: Boenfukyukai Foundation
Architect: David Chipperfield Architects London
Director-in-charge: David Chipperfield
Project architect: Matt Ball (design lead), Tom Herre (detail design, construction)
Lighting: Viabizzuno Srl
Landscape architect: Marcia Iwatate + Kamimura Landscape Architects
Signage: Hayashi Takuma Design Office
Furniture: Cassina IXC Ltd.
Textile: NUNO Corporation
Structural consultant: Jun Sato Structural Engineering
MEP consultant: ES Associates
Contractor and contract architect: Obayashi Corporation
Associate architect: Key Operation Inc. / Architects
Project manager: Naoko Kawamura
All images © Keiko Sasaoka
A cemetery is also one part of the project that is laid out across terraces and bisected by a monumental flight of steps leading up to a shrine at the highest point – an axis that orients the whole project.
Covering a total of 500-square-metre area, the Inagawa visitor centre and chapel are designed to create a visible threshold between the outer world and a quieter space within for contemplation.
Scattered around the central staircase, and as a counterpoint to the shrine, the visitor and chapel spaces are linked around a courtyard. Visitors approach this space from an exterior platform that leads to a wide, framed central opening in the stepped south-east façade.
All single-storey rooms are arranged under a single, sloping roof plane, following the view line from the entrance up to the shrine. The rooms of the visitor centre are easily accessible from the courtyard while the secluded chapel remains separate. It can be reached via a discrete corridor, directly accessed from the outside or up a gentle ramp from the garden.
"An unadorned and quiet room with minimal heating and artificial lighting offers a non-denominational contemplative space, pure in its form," said David Chipperfield Architects.
Relying on indirect sunlight from the gardens on either side, the chapel visitor finds seclusion and their focus is drawn to the essential rhythms of time through the natural indicators of daylight fluctuation and seasonal foliage changes."
"The planting of all the gardens is inspired by the palettes and textures of Japanese meadows and woodlands and a selection of grasses, shrubs and wildflowers are carefully juxtaposed," added the studio.
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