A highly original work this wedding chapel by Jun Aoki, a Japanese architect who is gaining increasing kudos on the international scene. Aoki is especially concerned with natural light and the effect it casts with its passing. Here the light that penetrates into the interior through fully glazed facades is filtered by a variety of materials, from organdy to semi-transparent walls.
Aoki’s declared aim is to create spaces where organic and geometrical forms co-exist, each drawing from the other to add meaningful depth. While a building facade must be representative, he says, it must not simple project a two-dimensional image but trigger a play of light and shadow. Here Aoki has really put into practice what he calls a “porous” wall. Removing the corners from a series of tetrahedrons, and describing a circle around the remaining solid surfaces, he then proceeded to hollow them out, generating four interlocking rings. It is a system that can be repeated ad infinitum and forms the structural frame for both the external glazed infill and full-length organdie fabric screens lining the interior.
The steel rings are set two-deep in rows of alternating patterns. The result is a fascinating alternation of geometrical solids and voids. Inside, the organdy screens blur the patterns on the other side. The impression is of being in another world made of muted, reflected and iridescent light where organic and geometrical shapes fuse.
The free-standing chapel structure dialogues with the reflective pool in front of it. Two of the 6-m walls facing the pond are made of the interlocking ring mesh structure. At night, ground-level fluorescent strip lighting lends an incandescent effect.
The architecture is perfectly suited to its original function as a wedding chapel set in the garden of the Osaka Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The Japanese wedding is a multifaceted affair, a mix of ancient Shinto ritual and the western tradition of a short ceremony held in a purpose built chapel.
The White Chapel, as Aoki has named it, is accessed by means of a bridge over the garden pond. An angled canopy in thin (2.3 cm) metal, supported by eight slender square columns, covers a front terrace. Two dark coloured doorways stand out against the white Thassos marble walls. Only one is in fact the entrance to the chapel - the other lintel supports two bells overlooking the garden.
Inside, an atrium and waiting room precede the chapel proper, a small environment where white is predominant, softly reflected by the filtered light and offset by the clear wood furnishings.
The marble tesserae flooring resembles a seabed, as if the place were an underwater scene.