A protestant church stands at 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.
The architectural design was a one-storied building with a restrained height so that it could harmonize in a low-rise residential area. It was aimed at creating 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. At the time of service there was no direct exposure to sunlight, 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, light was simulated using computer software at intervals of 30 minutes on the designed days during 12 months and manipulated depending on the time of the day. 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. In the afternoon there is only one line of direct sunlight, and around 3 o’clock light comes in like a shower, creating a dynamic environment. Uneven longitudinal ribs were carved at a random rhythm on the exposed RC concrete wall of the chapel, 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 the sky of Shonan, 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 sun light in the afternoon. Direct moonlight shines through the pitch-black chapel at night during 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. Reverend Furuya picked up 5 Kg of sand with his own hands in the premises of the previous church and used it to make an outdoor terra-cotta cross. This is because he wanted to emphasize the 50 years of the Christian church of Shonan and desires of the congregation.
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 alters the space in the church in different ways creating the perfect environment for prayer. After the service, it becomes a space for a prayer for a small number of people and one to two or three rays of sunlight shine throughout afternoon.
Relief tiles about the creation showing motifs of the hand of God 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 not only in the chapel but also in various rooms including the rest room, kid’s room, and pastor’s room added to the enjoyment.
Location: Kanagawa, Japan
Client: Shonan Christ Church
Gross Floor Area: 175.96 m2
Cost of Construction: Euros
Architects: Takeshi Hosaka
Structural: Hitoshi Yonamine / Ove Arup & Partners Japan
Acoustics: Ayako Hakozaki / Nagata Acoustics
Photography: © Kojifujii / Nacasa&Pertners Inc.