The fractal branching of nearby trees inspired this modern new chapel in Nagasaki, Japan. Designed by architect Yu Momoeda, the building uses a branching timber column system that begins with four pillars each splitting into eight branches.
These branches are connected by white steel rods and in turn support the next level of eight smaller pillars, which branch to support the top section of 16 branching pillars. The effect is a stunning 3D display of fractal geometry.
The building’s columns also subtly echo the branching ribbed vaults of traditional gothic churches. The similarities were intentional. “We tried to design the building as a new gothic style chapel, by using a Japanese wooden system,” said the architect.
The cedar supports are surrounded by a white rectilinear volume that serves to emphasize the internal structure. Roughly a third of each wall is taken up by full-height windows. The chapel has no altar or dais, simply wooden pews looking out the front window toward the park beyond.
“We tried to connect the activity of the chapel to the natural surroundings seamlessly,” the architect wrote.