©Kengo Kuma & Associates

Japan 2015Birch Moss Chapel


We built a small chapel in Karuizawa aiming for its presence to be blended into the nature of birch trees.

By combining the steel and the trunk of the birch, we designed a structure that might be mistaken for a real birch tree. Branches of a birch are extremely thin, but we stood them at random in the site to support the glass roof of the chapel, and the border between the forest and the building disappeared. Benches in the chapel are made of glass and acrylic, and we spread moss on the floors both inside and outside so that the glass chapel itself could fade away into the forest.

On the approach toward the chapel, Jean-Michel Othoniel’s artwork modeled after the shape of a heart was placed to welcome the guests.

Team Minoru Yokoo, Masafumi Yukimoto*, Ayumu Shimotsukasa* Construction Sasazawa Construction Cooperation Konishi Structural Engineers Facility P.T.Morimura & Associates Illumination Izumi Okayasu Lighting Design