At first glance, the area of Finchley in north London may seem an unlikely spot for a chapel memorializing the lives lost in a catastrophic nuclear accident some 30 years and 1,500 miles away. But the small, modern Belarusian Memorial Chapel was built to be the new heart of the U.K.’s 5,000-strong Belarusian community.
Funded by the Vatican, the church was intentionally planned and constructed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The nuclear accident had massive impact on Belarus, which took 70 percent of the radioactive fallout.
Designed by London-based Spheron Architects, the 800-square-foot church was directly inspired by traditional Belarusian religious architecture. Architect Tszwai So traveled to rural Belarus and studied the domed spires, icon-covered screens, and shingled roofs that influenced his final design. So combined these classic elements with modern touches like glazed glass walls and angled timber slats on the sides of the building.
The chapel was made of Douglas Fir was prefabricated offsite. Cross-laminated pine panels manufactured in Spain were used to finish the building.