Project Name: Suzhou Chapel
Site Address: 199 Yangchenghuan Road, Yangcheng Lake, Suzhou, China
Project Type: Architecture and Interior Design
Architect & Interior Designer: Neri&Hu Design and Research Office-
Design Period: September 2011 – September 2016
Gross Area: 700sqm
The chapel is a feature building within the larger Village zone. As such, it occupies a prime location visible from the main road and along the waterfront. Its architectural language is derived from similar elements found elsewhere in the project, such as the undulating brick walls and floating white volume—but they are here, taken to another level of articulation. The brick walls begin to break down to an even more refined scale, where different heights of walls interweave with each other to create a choreographed landscape journey leading into the building itself.
The white volume also receives special treatment, here, it is composed of two layers. The inner layer is a simple box punctuated on all sides with scattered windows, while the outer layer is a folded and perforated metal skin, a “veil” which alternatively hides and reveals. In the daytime, the white box emerges shimmering gently in the sunlight, subtly exposing its contents. In the night, the white box becomes a jewel-like beacon in the project, its various windows emitting a soft glow in all directions.
Inside the building, visitors continue on their guided journey through the pre-function area and then into the main chapel space, which features a light-filled 12m high space. There is a seamless integration with the surrounding nature as picture windows frame various man-made and natural landscapes. A mezzanine level hovers overhead to accommodate extra guests, and includes a catwalk encircling the space, allowing 360 degrees of viewing angles. The mezzanine is integrated into a wood louvered cage element which wraps around the whole upper part of the room. A grid of glowing bulb lights and delicate bronze details give a touch of opulence to the otherwise quietly monastic spaces. Custom wood furniture and crafted wood details compliment the simple material palette of gray brick, terrazzo, and concrete. Another feature of the chapel building is a separate staircase alongside the main space, which allows visitors to gain access to the rooftop for unrivaled views across the scenic lake. Various openings along this stair ascent give unexpected views both internally and externally.
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are the Founding Partners of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, an inter-disciplinary international architectural design practice based in Shanghai, China, with an additional office in London, UK. Neri&Hu are named Maison&Objet Asia Designers of The Year 2015 and Wallpaper* Designer of The Year 2014. In 2013, they were inducted into the U.S. Interior Design Hall of Fame. Their practice was the 2011 INSIDE Festival Overall Winner, won AR Awards for Emerging Architecture in 2010 by Architectural Review and one of the Design Vanguards in 2009 by Architectural Record. Other than architectural professionals, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu have been actively involved in teaching and research. They have been invited to speak, exhibit and judge for many prestigious events and programs all over the world.