Take Me To Church: Religious Architecture Curated by Yellowtrace

 

Growing up during the times of Communism in former Yugoslavia was an interesting experience – not that I have a benchmark for growing up any other way. One thing I do remember from my ‘Communist childhood’ was that visiting churches and religion in general were taboo, and any expression of one’s own beliefs were discouraged. Although I was too young to recall all the little details from this time, I vividly remember my late grandmother speaking to me about angels, and the smell of the incense and the candles she used to burn at home before I’d fall asleep. She used to ‘bless me’, kiss my forehead, and she even ‘secretly’ took me to church a couple of times while I was still a pup. Although none of this meant much to me at the time, it has indeed turned out to have a profound effect on my curiosity and the way I feel about churches and places of worship. Thanks to my grandmother, I have grown up with an innate sense of curiosity and wonder about religious architecture. Although I am not myself particularly religious, I adore and seek out churches when visiting new cities, no matter what denomination they belong to.

Just like my grandmother did, churches make me feel safe, protected and nurtured. For me, these visits can have an almost meditative experience, and a sense of ceremonial celebration. There have been plenty of times when entering a church while feeling somber, a sense of mystery would overcome my being and pull me out of my bubble in a snap.

Regardless of whether or not you feel the same way about churches as I do, it is difficult to deny the extraordinary power of these sacred elemental spaces. In today’s world full of noise, the church represents a little break, and a sweet moment of peace. To further reinforce these qualities, our story focuses on buildings with minimal use of ornamentation. These calm and serene spaces were designed for contemplative meditation and collective spirituality – no matter what our personal beliefs may be. Through careful selection of materials, monumental (or micro) proportions, manipulation of natural and artificial light, and the absence of religious iconography, these sacred spaces achieve supreme visual harmony, and assure silence.

So… Shall we visit some of my favourites today? Be warned – this post is a religious experience in it’s own right and just may break the internet with it’s gigantic epicness. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

See More ‘Stories on Design’ Curated by Yellowtrace.

 

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects | Yellowtrace

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects | Yellowtrace

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects | Yellowtrace

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects | Yellowtrace

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects | Yellowtrace

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography © Nacasa and Partners.

 

Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects // Two curving staircases encircle the exterior of this wedding chapel by Tokyo-based architect Hiroshi Nakamura, meeting at a rooftop platform that overlooks the Hiroshima coastline. “By entwining two spiral stairways, we realised a free-standing building of unprecedented composition and architecturally embodied the act of marriage in a pure form,” explains Nakamura.


 

Bishop Edward King Chapel by Niall McLaughlin Architects | Yellowtrace.

Bishop Edward King Chapel by Niall McLaughlin Architects | Yellowtrace.
Photography © Dennis Gilbert.

 

Bishop Edward King Chapel by Niall McLaughlin Architects // And so to Britain, where Niall McLaughlin Architects has added the Bishop Edward King Chapel to the cluster of buildings at Ripon Theological College nestled in the countryside north of Oxford. The chapel provides space within space – a ring of columns bend inwards and enmesh, referencing an existing forest glade, within the masonry and glass superstructure. To my eyes the architecture also references the expressed tracery and ribs of gothic vaulting, readily connecting this clean modern room with a far more ancient and mysterious kind of architecture.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Gratitude Open Chapel in Lagunillas Mexico by Tatiana Bilbao & Dellekamp Arquitectos | Yellowtrace
Photography © Iwan Baan.

 

Gratitude Open Chapel in Lagunillas, Mexico by Tatiana Bilbao & Dellekamp Arquitectos // Located within a few kilometers near the beginning of the journey, four clean white forms emerge from the landscape. Offering a moment for pause and silent reflection to visitors, the ritual space allows the individual to embrace their upcoming quest. A boundary made from stacked stone, the ‘wall of promises’ invites individuals to leave behind a symbolic object, image or piece of writing expressing gratitude or compliments. The tall monoliths cast long shadows, which shift during the day, obstructing the once sun bathed terrain.


 

St Hilaire Church by Mathieu Lehanneur Melle France | Yellowtrace

St Hilaire Church by Mathieu Lehanneur Melle France | Yellowtrace
Photography by Felipe Ribon.

 

St Hilaire Church by Mathieu Lehanneur Melle France // Paris based Mathieu Lehanneur has created a space which sits comfortably somewhere between the past, the present and the future, where tradition and technology interact, and the original and the new exist in perfect harmony – alabaster amber and original sandstone look like a match made in heaven. The result is unexpected, almost bizarre, yet it feels really comfortable, natural, ceremonial and – above all – very beautiful.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Church of San Giovanni Battista by Mario Botta Mogno, Switzerland | Yellowtrace

Church of San Giovanni Battista by Mario Botta Mogno, Switzerland | Yellowtrace

Church of San Giovanni Battista by Mario Botta Mogno, Switzerland | Yellowtrace

 

Church of San Giovanni Battista in Mogno, Switzerland by Mario Botta // Seen from outside, the building is elliptical in shape, with a slanting roof and black and white stripes. The interior has a dizzying checkerboard design in the same colours. This is the church that was designed by the well-known architect, Mario Botta – the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista at Fusio. The innovative building made from alternating layers of native Peccia marble and Vallemaggia granite was extremely controversial, but eventually became a landmark that is known far beyond the borders of Switzerland. The church has no windows, and the interior – which seats about 15 people – is only illuminated by natural light streaming in through the glass roof.


 

Church of Seed by O Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Church of Seed by O Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Church of Seed by O Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Church of Seed by O Studio Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography © Iwan Baan.

 

Church of Seed by O Studio Architects // Hong Kong-based O Studio Architects have completed a stark concrete church on the side of a sacred mountain in China. Named the Church of Seed, the building on Mount Luofu is formed of three curved walls that curl around the interior like the casing around the seed of a plant. Vertical ridges in the surface of these inclined walls reveal the bamboo formwork that the concrete was cast into, while handmade bamboo furniture provides seating for 60 inside the central hall. A large cross-shaped opening on the southeast elevation draws in soft sunlight in the mornings, while a solid west wall blocks out glare in the afternoons. A staircase on the side of the church leads up to a rooftop observation deck.


 

Santa Ana Chapel in Portugal by 348 aquitectura | Yellowtrace

Santa Ana Chapel in Portugal by 348 aquitectura | Yellowtrace
Photography © Fernando Guerra.

 

Santa Ana Chapel in Portugal by e|348 Arquitectura // Portuguese firm e|348 arquitectura has completed the ‘Santa Ana Chapel’ on a wedge site surrounded by a very traditional vernacular and an almost untouched natural beauty. Simplicity and originality are key components to match the history and aesthetic of the landscape. An L-shape typography was chosen to leave designed space on the exterior in the form of contemporary stone steps and courtyard. The traditional masonry construction is covered in chapisco, a traditional portuguese finish whereby a special concrete mix is skillfully applied to a wall or roof sealing any cracks in the brickwork but also giving the rounded structure a strong texture, painted white to contrast the environment.


 

Harajuku Church in Tokyo, Japan by Ciel Rouge | Yellowtrace

Harajuku Church in Tokyo, Japan by Ciel Rouge | Yellowtrace
Photography © Henri Gueydan.

 

Harajuku Church in Tokyo, Japan by Ciel Rouge // The architecture for this Protestant Church is centred by a wide nave arranged with six arches and a bell tower that symbolically lay importance on the seven elements, the seven days of creation, the seven churches of the Orient. “We create the impression of a biblical open sky image from which the light amid the Holy Spirit descends upon the followers and worshippers,” says the architect. The softly curved arches specifically designed for fine acoustics also remind of a hand overwhelming the crowd. For the use as an authentic concert hall facility, the temple displays the comfort of lodges discreetly positioned right from within the arches.


 

Iglesia San Jorge by Tabuenca & Leache | Yellowtrace

Iglesia San Jorge by Tabuenca & Leache | Yellowtrace

Iglesia San Jorge by Tabuenca & Leache | Yellowtrace
Photography by Pedro Pegenaute & José Manuel Cutillas.

 

Iglesia San Jorge by Tabuenca & Leache // For this project, a church-building had to be designed to accomodate 400 people, including a chapel which would cater for about 100 people to use on a daily basis. A parish centre also includs offices, multipurpose rooms, classrooms for catechesis, two houses for priests and a guest room.


 

Nossa Senhora das Necessidades Church by Célia Faria + Inês Cortesão | Yellowtrace

Nossa Senhora das Necessidades Church by Célia Faria + Inês Cortesão | Yellowtrace

Nossa Senhora das Necessidades Church by Célia Faria + Inês Cortesão | Yellowtrace

Nossa Senhora das Necessidades Church by Célia Faria + Inês Cortesão | Yellowtrace
Photography © FG+SG – Fernando Guerra.

 

Nossa Senhora das Necessidades Church in Portugal by Célia Faria + Inês Cortesão // The church is located in the centre of a crowded village. The intervention is based on a building previously constructed, where the interior was unfinished. The architects started with the idea of “building the silence” – in a world full of noise, the church represents a break, a moment of rest, peace and meditation. The strong spiritual character is present but doesn’t intimidate, it gives a sense of protection. The selection of materials, the way of moulding both natural and artificial light and the absence of images had the purpose of achieving harmony, a primarily condition in order to assure silence.


 

Shonan Christ Church by Takeshi Hosaka | Yellowtrace

Shonan Christ Church by Takeshi Hosaka | Yellowtrace

Shonan Christ Church by Takeshi Hosaka | Yellowtrace

Shonan Christ Church by Takeshi Hosaka | Yellowtrace
Photography by Koji Fujii / Nacasa & Partners.

 

Shonan Christ Church in Kanagawa, Japan by Takeshi Hosaka // Gaps in the upside-down barrel-vaulted ceiling of this Japanese church by Takeshi Hosaka funnel slices of light into the concrete-lined hall. The “restrained” single-storey height of the church, with a sculptural reinforced concrete roof, is intended to harmonise with the low-rise buildings of the residential area. This curving cast-concrete roof features six separate concave slabs, intended to symbolise the first to sixth day in the Bible’s story of creation.


 

Sistemazione Cripta by Gianluca Gelmini | Yellowtrace

Sistemazione Cripta by Gianluca Gelmini | Yellowtrace

Sistemazione Cripta by Gianluca Gelmini | Yellowtrace
Images © Gianluca Gelmini.

 

Sistemazione Cripta by Gianluca Gelmini // This project is executed around the theme of ‘space without the edges’, where the curved line extends outside the crypt to create a sinuosity internal space. The new lighting system consists of two large rings measuring six meters in diameter that cross above the altar. Two new entries clad in brass mark the passage into the crypt.


 

St Moritz Church by John Pawson | Yellowtrace

St Moritz Church by John Pawson | Yellowtrace

St Moritz Church by John Pawson | Yellowtrace

St Moritz Church by John Pawson | Yellowtrace
Photography by Gilbert McCarragher.

 

St Moritz Church by John Pawson // British architect John Pawson’s minimalist remodelling of a church in Augsburg, Germany, includes slices of onyx over the windows to diffuse light more softly through the space. Slices of finely veined translucent white stone were laminated to glass and installed in the choir windows. “The effect of this is to generate the optimum light conditions, screening out direct sunlight and bathing the space in a haze of diffused luminescence”, explain the architects.


 

St Voile Chapel by Kasahara Design Work | Yellowtrace

St Voile Chapel by Kasahara Design Work | Yellowtrace
Photography © Nacasa & Partners.

 

St. Voile Chapel by Kasahara Design Work // Sited on the banks of Niigata’s Shinano river, this wedding chapel completed by Japanese Architects Kasahara design work is topped with an intricate white veil. Serving as a visual metaphor for marriage, a series of pipes organically climb the chapel’s interior before interweaving and uniting at their eventual summit. Ensuring a bright and almost ethereal atmosphere, the scheme’s brilliant white surfaces reflect the pure daylight entering from above, while an arched aperture behind the church’s altar frames a view of the building’s natural surroundings. Externally, the narrow building is clad with a natural slate that allows the chapel to sit comfortably within its landscape.


 

Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki by Tuomo Suomalainen | Yellowtrace

Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki by Tuomo Suomalainen | Yellowtrace

 

Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki by Tuomo Suomalainen // Temppeliaukio Church (also known as the Church of the Rock) is a Lutheran church in the Töölö neighbourhood of Helsinki. The project was generated from an architectural competition won by two architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. Their design for project was recognised by the awards jury as “completely original” and respectful of the competition goal to “include the organisation plan for the whole Temppeliaukio Square with its park area and parking spaces, taking into attention that as great part as possible of the rock area of the square could be saved.”

As a result, the interior of the church was excavated and built into the rock. The sanctuary floor was located at the level of the highest street that ended at the square, so that the entrance leads the visitors directly inside the church without the need of stairs. The 24m diameter roof is made up of a copper-clad dome, connected to the natural rock wall by 180 window panes that let the natural light in. Due to the varying height of the rock wall, each glass section of the roof is different in size. According to the studied disposition of the dome, this causes stronger illumination of the altar area.


 

Thorncrown Chapel by E Fay Jones | Yellowtrace

Thorncrown Chapel by E Fay Jones | Yellowtrace
Photography © Randall Connaughton.

 

Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones // Hidden in the middle of the forests surrounding Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains, Thorncrown Chapel rests amongst the oaks, pines and maples. The humble chapel, designed by Euine Fay Jones, is less than 35 years old – yet it’s already on the U.S. Historic register, having been named one of the AIA’s top ten buildings of the 20th century.

With over 425 glass windows and a repeated column and truss structure, the vertical chapel is like a “forest within a forest,” reaching 15m high, 18m long and a mere 7m wide. A central skylight allows generous portions of light to spill through onto those below. Custom lanterns adorn each column and at night reflect off the glass – as if they were lit somewhere off in the forest.


 

Tree Church & Labyrinth Walk in New Zealand by Barry Cox | Yellowtrace

Tree Church & Labyrinth Walk in New Zealand by Barry Cox | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Barry Cox.

 

Tree Church & Labyrinth Walk in New Zealand by Barry Cox // Barry Cox, New Zealand resident, nature lover and founder of tree locations, has built a living chapel on the grounds of a 3-acre garden in the region of Ohaupo. Cox constructed the ‘Tree Church‘ over the last four years, landscaping a 350m lush labyrinth walk based on the walls of the ancient city of Jericho. The agricultural architectural project comprises a variety of plant species and life — cut leaf alder for the roof canopy, copper sheen for the walls, and camellia black tie, acer globosum and thuja pyramidalis for the external façades.

Inside the green dwelling, rows of wooden benches accommodate up to 100 guests, forming a pathway to the altar, which is made of italian marble. Outside the gardens include a shaded area under a large canopy constructed from a military cargo parachute for after-event gatherings.


 

San Floriano di Gavassa Church by x2 architettura | Yellowtrace

San Floriano di Gavassa Church by x2 architettura | Yellowtrace

San Floriano di Gavassa Church by x2 architettura | Yellowtrace
Photography © Paola de Pietri & Giacomo Magnani.

 

San Floriano di Gavassa Church by x2 architettura // In the town of Gavassa in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna Province, Italian practice x2 architettura have renovated and added a new wing to the ‘San Floriano di Gavassa Church’. Positioned adjacent to the maintained historic facade, a white curved wall enclosing the intervention keeps a discreet appearance. Situated to the north of the existing structure, the entities are kept separate, and connected internally by three passages.

The original arched entrance to the church becomes the internal portal to the wing containing the liturgical room. The longitudinal elevation is fitted with skylights along the exterior wall to bring soft northern daylight inside, streaming patterns along the white surface. Dedicated to Sunday masses, the elliptical perimeter wall hugs the congregation within a wide and light space. Arranged axially to the entrance, the chairs are arranged in curved rows which allow people to sit face to face, across the altar and ambo. The expressive interior evokes a spiritual ambiance.


 

Cappella Granato in Zillertal, Austria by Mario Botta | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of Mario Botta.

 

Cappella Granato in Zillertal, Austria by Mario Botta // Set on a mountain pass at 2,000 metres above sea level, the Swiss architect’s objet architectural encloses a space for worship and, in its perfect geometry, blends harmoniously with its natural surroundings. The chapel owes its name to the peculiarity of garnet, a stone with a dodecahedral structure.


 

Holy Rosary Church in Lousiana by Trahan Architects | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of Trahan Architects.

 

Holy Rosary Church in Lousiana by Trahan Architects // The design of the Holy Rosary Complex – comprised of an oratory, administrative building, and religious education building – for a rural Catholic Parish in South Louisiana, is an honest exploration of form, function, light and materials that results in an engaging and profound study in sacred space. Neither opulent nor austere, Holy Rosary Chapel presents a thoughtful meditation on sacred spaces and the spatial embodiment of spiritual experience. The masterplan for the rural campus creates a strong sense of place and draws a distinction between the program’s sacred and secular components. Secular components of the campus take form as linear or “edge” buildings – an administrative block, two linear classroom bars, a religious education building – which form the courtyard in which the oratory is located. The chapel, is the focus of the otherwise orthogonal composition, but is itself skewed to further underscore its importance and to create a sense of expectation.


 

The New Church in Foligno Italy by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas | Yellowtrace

The New Church in Foligno Italy by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas | Yellowtrace
Photography © Moreno Maggi.

 

The New Church in Foligno Italy by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas // There are two main architectural elements that are identified with the functions of the religious centre. The first element, the church building, consists of two rectangles inserted into one another. The second element, also rectangular shape but long and low, is home to the sacristy, the pastoral ministry of local Casa Canonica. Spirituality and meditation are joined together in a play of natural light entering horizontally and vertically, drawing a dialogue with the sky.


 

San Alberto Magno Chapel by Juan Pavez Aguilar & Jose Requesens Aldea | Yellowtrace
Photography © Marcelo Cáceres A. .

 

San Alberto Magno Chapel by Juan Pavez Aguilar & José Requesens Aldea // This Chapel, offered to serve the parish community of San Pablo Placilla, is located in the north-eastern land Curauma PUCV Campus and is intended to serve both the university community and the City of Curauma. It is located in a sunken courtyard that offers the possibility of access through multiple paths that converge to it. It has an atrium that extends the capacity to some 500 people more, because their sockets west and south facades completely open roof also allowing that area so as to project the interior of the Chapel outward.


 

All Saints Chapel by Gustavo Penna | Yellowtrace

All Saints Chapel by Gustavo Penna | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Gustavo Penna.

 

All Saints Chapel in Martinho Campos, Brazil by Gustavo Penna // “First, the baptismal font. A source of pure water – the origin of everything. Through the two river banks, one reaches the third – religare; the symbol/synthesis, the cross. Sky and earth – the vertical line. All men – the horizontal line. The internal space is created by displacing the sacred form. The space is the movement. The wood shelters, cuddles, protects. Nature is around participating in solidarity.” – From the Architects.


 

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura | Yellowtrace

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura | Yellowtrace

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura | Yellowtrace
Photography by Tom Arban.

 

Cardedeu by EMC Arquitectura // This asymmetric concrete chapel by EMC Arquitectura teeters on the edge of a mountain in El Salvador. The chapel has two open sides, designed to take advantage of being “in such a privileged place with spectacular views”.


 

Capela Jesus Mestre by Site Specific Arquitectura | Yellowtrace

Capela Jesus Mestre by Site Specific Arquitectura | Yellowtrace
Photography by Eduardo Nascimento and João Fôja.

 

Capela Jesus Mestre by Site Specific Arquitectura // Portuguese studio Site Specific Arquitectura has transformed a warehouse at a Lisbon monastery into a minimalist chapel featuring simple furnishings and a lime-green confession booth. The old warehouse was stripped back to its concrete shell and given a pared-back aesthetic through “austere and rigorous designing,” according to Marques and Costa.


 

Extension of Gubbio Cemetery by Andrea Dragoni & Francesco Pes | Yellowtrace

Extension of Gubbio Cemetery by Andrea Dragoni & Francesco Pes | Yellowtrace
Photography by Alessandra Chemollo_ORCH.

 

Extension of Gubbio Cemetery by Andrea Dragoni & Francesco Pes // Italian architect Andrea Dragoni has extended a cemetery in an ancient Italian town by adding rows of monumental travertine walls with public plazas and artworks slotted in between. The towering stone walls are laid out in sequence, intended by the architect to reflect the linear arrangement of the old town and its surrounding landscape.


 

Forest Chapel by Hironaka Ogawa | Yellowtrace

Forest Chapel by Hironaka Ogawa | Yellowtrace

Forest Chapel by Hironaka Ogawa | Yellowtrace
Photography © Daici Ano.

 

Forest Chapel in Gunma, Japan by Hironaka Ogawa // Columns branch outwards like a grove of trees around the aisle of this wedding chapel in Gunma, Japan, by Tokyo architect Hironaka Ogawa. “I took the trees in the garden as a design motif and proposed a chapel with randomly placed, tree-shaped columns,” he explains. The sprawling steel columns are dotted randomly around the interior, creating irregular arches for the bride to walk beneath. “I intended to create various looks by rotating the columns and placing them throughout the space,” adds Ogawa.


 

Karsamaki Church by OOPEAA | Yellowtrace

Karsamaki Church by OOPEAA | Yellowtrace

Karsamaki Church by OOPEAA | Yellowtrace
Photography by Jussi Tiainen.

 

Kärsämäki Church in Finland by OOPEAA // This little shingle church may look modest, but it took years of extensive study and plenty of discussion to create this modern interpretation of an 18th century chapel. The first church in the parish of Kärsämäki was completed in 1765. A beautiful site on the riverbank was chosen as a suitable spot for the church. The church later became too small for the congregation and as it was already dilapidated, it was demolished 1841.

The idea of the rebuilding the old church in the municipality arose in 1998. However, no clear document indicating what the church looked like survived. Those involved in the project thus became enthusiastic about architect Panu Kaila’s idea to build a new, modern church using traditional 18th century methods, and a competition was organised within the Department of Architecture at the University of Oulu. The design of the church is based on Kaila’s winning entry “Cantata”.


 

Kolumba Diocesan Museum by Peter Zumthor | Yellowtrace

Kolumba Diocesan Museum by Peter Zumthor | Yellowtrace

Kolumba Diocesan Museum by Peter Zumthor | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Peter Zumthor.

 

Kolumba Diocesan Museum by Peter Zumthor // Situated in Cologne, Germany, a city that was almost completely destroyed in World War II, the museum houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s collection of art which spans more than a thousand years. Peter Zumthor’s design delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church, respecting the site’s history and preserving its essence. “They believe in the inner values of art, its ability to make us think and feel, its spiritual values. This project emerged from the inside out, and from the place,” explained Zumthor at the museum’s opening.


 

Light of Life Church by Shinslab Architecture & IISAC | Yellowtrace

Light of Life Church by Shinslab Architecture & IISAC | Yellowtrace
Photography by Jin Hyo-Sook & Lee Dong-Hwan.

 

Light of Life Church by Shinslab Architecture & IISAC // Located in the middle of a village for retired missionaries, the ‘light of the life’ chapel designed by Korean studio Shinslab Iisac is nestled into the Bori mountain in Gapyong near Seoul, South Korea. The building seeks to echo the surrounding nature by reducing the impact of the built mass, and uses reflective and transparent materials such as glass and polycarbonate. The space of worship is covered by a hemispherical dome, with its surface formed by cut red cedar trunks that stand upright like the trees of the forest.


 

Lux Aeterna Holy Cross Chapel by OPA Open Platform Architecture | Yellowtrace

Lux Aeterna Holy Cross Chapel by OPA Open Platform Architecture | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of OPA.

 

Lux Aeterna Holy Cross Chapel by OPA Open Platform Architecture // Greek studio OPA (open platform for architecture) has conceptualised the ‘Chapel of the Holy Cross’, a religious building that translates symbolism, tradition and belief into space with a materiality based on the simplicity and harmony of contemporary architecture. Proposed for the Greek island of Serifos, it possesses a single cliff façade that faces the aegean sea, positioning the view to the sea. The optical impact of the building on the landscape is minimal, with only one façade on the cliff side.


 

Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel by AZL Architects | Yellowtrace

Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel by AZL Architects | Yellowtrace

Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel by AZL Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography by Yao Li.

 

Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel by AZL Architects // Vertical lengths of timber mask the interior of this chapel designed by AZL Architects in eastern China, which features a distinctive V-shaped roof. Dark shingles cover this roof, which folds back on itself to give the square-planned building two corners that pitch sharply upwards and two that dip down. Below the roof, a double-layered facade consists of solid white walls, screened behind a semi-transparent wooden skin.


 

Padre Rubinos Chapel | Yellowtrace

Padre Rubinos Chapel | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Elsa Urquijo Arquitectos.

 

Padre Rubinos Chapel by Elsa Urquijo Arquitectos// In the Northern Spanish city of a Coruña, Elsa Urquijo Architects has designed an elegantly restrained church, which forms part of the newly built headquarters of social charity Padre Rubinos. The entrance brings parishioners directly inside the nave of the church where intimate rows of seating are positioned in front of a simple altar devoid of decoration or motif. The design’s human scale is further emphasised through a horizontal play of lines, starkly contrasted with almost divine vertical lighting. Throughout the project a minimal use of ornamentation ensures calm and serene spaces designed for contemplative meditation and collective spirituality.


 

Prayer Chapel by Gensler | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of Ryan Gobuty/ Gensler.

 

Prayer Chapel by Gensler // A wave-like wooden ceiling undulates above the heads of students at this chapel by Gensler in the basement of a Los Angeles university. Despite being located within the rectangular confines of an old classroom, the chapel has curved walls and not a single corner. Recycled strips of timber were mixed with wood harvested from olive trees around the campus to create the uneven finish of the chapel’s timber ceiling. A narrow skylight creates a band of light across the ceiling at one end and illuminated glass blocks create brightly coloured windows in the curved interior walls, but offer no views to the rooms beyond.


 

Rainbow Chapel by Kubo Tsushima Architects | Yellowtrace

Rainbow Chapel by Kubo Tsushima Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography © Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners.

 

Rainbow Chapel by Kubo Tsushima Architects // Japanese studio Kubo Tsushima Architects has renovated a wedding chapel in Tokyo’s Ebisu district – painting each windowsill in colours of the rainbow to “impart faint hues” as light filters through. The ‘rainbow chapel’ was originally used as an annex to an exclusive members-only salon next door and the previous excessive ornamentation has been eliminated and stripped back. Focussing on a space animated by natural light, the oval-shaped room features rows of wooden chairs, facing a simple alter at the end. The renovation sees the wedding chapel stripped back and paired with a contemporary approach using natural light.


 

Saint John Baptist Chapel by Alejandro Beautell | Yellowtrace

Saint John Baptist Chapel by Alejandro Beautell | Yellowtrace

Saint John Baptist Chapel by Alejandro Beautell | Yellowtrace
Images © Beautell Arquitectos.

 

Saint John Baptist Chapel by Alejandro Beautell // Canary Islands-based Beautell Arquitectos have designed a chapel in the El Hierro Island, Spain, that features strong geometries and a mystical atmosphere and austere aesthetics while it successfully delivers to evoke spirituality and empower the feeling of sacredness. The strong geometry of the building is regulated by the plot of land that it sits on. The chapel adapts to the shape of the plot; as a result the chapel demonstrates a geometrically uneven shape that forms a scalene triangle.


 

San Arialdo by Duearchitetti | Yellowtrace

San Arialdo by Duearchitetti | Yellowtrace

San Arialdo by Duearchitetti | Yellowtrace
Photography © Simone Bossi.

 

San Arialdo in Velate, Italy by Duearchitetti // San Arialdo is the name of a small chapel located in Velate, a small community in Varese. It was presented as a lecture room in the parish house used by the children to prepare the communion. The room, modest and simple in its shape, spontaneous in its furniture, though flooded by an intense natural light, has been used in the previous years as a space where a small group of believers gathered to pray.


 

The White Chapel in Hong Kong by Danny Cheng | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of Danny Cheng Interiors.

 

The White Chapel in Hong Kong by Danny Cheng // Hong Kong architect Danny Cheng’s project for Discovery Bay rises from an enveloping reflecting pool like a mirage. With an overall form reminiscent of the US Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, the Hong Kong project juts up in a series of A-frames, a pyramid of white before a back drop of mountain, sea, and sky.


 

St Henry Ecumenical Art Chapel | Yellowtrace

St Henry Ecumenical Art Chapel | Yellowtrace
Photography by Jussi Tiainen.

 

St Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel in Finland by Sanaksenaho Architects // An arched framework of curving pine ribs gives this chapel by Sanaksenaho Architects a shape more akin to a boat than a building. Externally the chapel is clad with strips of copper that create subtle diagonal stripes across the curving walls. This material is gradually changing colour and will eventually give the building a turquoise exterior, while the untreated timber-lined interior is gradually reddening as it ages.


 

Chapel of St. Lawrence by Avanto Architects | Yellowtrace

Chapel of St. Lawrence by Avanto Architects | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Avanto Architects.

 

Chapel of St. Lawrence by Avanto Architects // Designed by Avanto Architects from Finland and completed in 2010, this impressive Chapel of St. Lawrence was the winner of an open architectural competition. The site is situated in an important and ancient historical setting in Vantaa, a city north of Helsinki. The chapel links disparate elements in the surroundings without appearing as a distinct building mass, leaving the old medieval stone church and bellcote to dominate the village milieu. The massing and materials are in response to existing surroundings, with use of rendered brickwork, natural stone, patinated copper sheet and mesh.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Kamppi Chapel by K2S Architects | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of K2S Architects. Photography by Marko Huttunen & Tuomas Uusheimo.

 

Kamppi Chapel of Silence in Helsinki by K2S Architects // Kamppi Chapel of Silence is a peaceful timber paradise sprouting from the south-side corner of Narinkka Square in Helsinki – one of Finland’s liveliest urban spaces. K2S Architects introduced the chapel into the otherwise icy context by delicately moulding a waxed and pigment-treated exterior finish to the Chapel’s vase-like form.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Grundtvig Church Copenhagen, Photo Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Photo © Photo Nick Hughes.

 

Grundtvig Church in Copenhagen // Grundtvig’s Church (Danish: Grundtvigs Kirke) is located in the Bispebjerg district of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is a rare example of expressionist church architecture. Due to its unusual appearance, it is one of the best known churches in the city.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Bagsard Church by Jorn Utzon | Yellowtrace

Bagsard Church by Jorn Utzon | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Jørn Utzon.

 

Bagsværd Church by Jørn Utzon // The Bagsværd Church by Jørn Utzon was completed in 1976. Though not his most famous work, the church is an example of the architect’s inventive work at a different scale. Utzon designed the church with an unassuming exterior that merely hints at the stirring forms he created inside. The orthogonal form is clad in white precast concrete panels and glazed white tiles attached to a frame. Utzon positioned the reflective glazed tiles to relate to the celebrated sinuous concrete curves occurring in the interior sanctuary.


 

Ekouin Nenbutsudo: Tokyo Temple Veiled in Trees by Yutaka Kawahara | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of Yutaka Kawahara Design Studio.

 

Ekouin Nenbutsudo: Tokyo Temple by Yutaka Kawahara // Forming a refuge of tranquility in the heart of Tokyo, local practice Yutaka Kawahara Design Studio has created the magical ‘Ekouin Nenbutsudo Temple’ veiled in trees. This intimate and reflective building enables congregation and prayer, while also providing accommodation and training facilities for region’s buddhist monks. The structure is veiled with bamboo plants, protecting occupants from the pollution and the noise from the adjacent street. The “bamboo forest in the sky” is interspersed with glass crystal screens made of 108 Swarovski pieces, symbolic of a Buddhist rosary.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

La Mise en Abîme Installation by Romain Crelier at Abbey-church of Bellelay, Switzerland | Yellowtrace.

La Mise en Abîme Installation by Romain Crelier at Abbey-church of Bellelay, Switzerland | Yellowtrace.
Images © wfw/.

 

La Mise en Abîme Installation by Romain Crelier at Abbey-church of Bellelay, Switzerland // At the Bellelay Abbey (Abbatiale de Bellelay), lost in deepest darkest Switzerland, a mesmerising installation of Romain Crelier’s work gave the church a new dimension. Crelier is a Swiss artist who explores many techniques, amongst them beautifully ghostly reflections.

Entitled La Mise en Abîme (French for “placed into abyss”), the installation comprised two large, extremely precise and impeccably finished receptacles in which vast quantities of used oil are contained. Crelier chooses to use recycled liquid because he considers the large-scale work to be ironic creations of “monochrome paintings using a despised substance.”

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Kinetic Sound Installation by David Letellier | Yellowtrace
Image via Frame and Creative Applications Network.

 

Kinetic Sound Installation by David Letellier // Caten is a kinetic sound installation by French born artist, David Letellier, created for the Saint Sauveur chapel in Caen, France. As a sound artist with a background in architecture, his broad range of abilities merge to create this uniquely holistic work. The installation is composed of 300 fine wires which straddle two lengths of rope on either end.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Bruder Klaus Field Chapel in Mechernich, Germany by Peter Zumthor | Yellowtrace
Image courtesy of Peter Zumthor.

 

Bruder Klaus Field Chapel in Mechernich, Germany by Peter Zumthor // Bruder Klaus Field Chapel all began as a sketch, eventually evolving to become a very elegant yet basic landmark in Germany’s natural landscape. The design was constructed by local farmers who wanted to honour their patron saint, Bruder Klaus of the 15th century.

Arguably the most interesting aspects of the church are found in the methods of construction, beginning with a wigwam made of 112 tree trunks. Upon completion of the frame, layers of concrete were poured and rammed atop the existing surface, each around 50cm thick. When the concrete of all 24 layers had set, the wooden frame was set on fire, leaving behind a hollowed blackened cavity and charred walls.


 

Kapolna Madaras on the Harghita Mountains of Transylvania by Christopher Johnson | Yellowtrace
Photography © .

 

Kapolna Madaras on the Harghita Mountains of Transylvania by Christopher Johnson // Located on the highest summit of the Harghita Mountains of Transylvania, the construction of the chapel offers a shelter for worship and a place for rest. The chapel is a proclamation of dualities, which even in themselves contain further histories of the human condition, both natural and man-made; it is at once the “cathedral” and the “cave”, temporary and permanent, cultured and primitive. The space allows the ceiling to disappear into the heights, and the eye and mind are drawn upward in ascent.


 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Nick Hughes, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Interior Design, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places.

5 Responses

  1. kennethmason1kapm

    agree with Ezabelle and Sam.
    I can understand the ‘religious experience’ you spoke about early in the article.
    They all seem to include an element like a blank canvas. The blank alowed me to ‘insert’ some of my own thoughts and emotions into the space. Another element I enjoyed was a sense of ‘open’. I am aware that some of the spaces were limited and enclosed, but the feeling of openness ( for me ) was still present. Would enjoy seeing more of the St. Hilaire church to see if the design theme was used beyond the alter area.

    A wonderful article. Any chance of doing some visual and starting with one church and moving to the next ‘closest’ in design. Like a “flip book cartoon.” Would enjoy a video showing a church morph.

    kapm

    Reply

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