ON ONE SIDE, IT IS SUBMERGED BY THE OCEAN, ON THE OTHER, IT WELCOMES THE BELIEVERS OR SIMPLY THOSE WHO LOOK FOR A PLACE FOR MEDITATION
Something in the sacred atmosphere, in the careful study of light, in the fine selection of raw texture of walls or in the curved lines that define the meditation room and the inner section of the roof, creates a recall, a visual connection with some details of the famous Chapel designed by Le Corbusier in Ronchamp.
However, the latter was built in a completely different context: a hill from where you can see the horizon. The Vector Architects positioned their chapel on a beach, in a seaside village in the province of Hebei, Beijing.
The project, characterized by geometric lines and a sloping roof, is influenced by the proximity of the sea and its tides “We imagine the Seashore Chapel as an old boat drifting on the ocean long time ago. The ocean receded through time and left an empty structure behind, which is still lying on the beach” those are the words used by the architects to describe the inspiration that gives life to the project.
The space of the Chapel is divided vertically, on the ground floor the structure is raised and supported by white columns, offering a covered place for people strolling on the beach, an intermediate step from the mundane to the religious environment. When the tide rises, everything is submerged by water, transforming the structure into a boat.
On the upper floors the atmosphere becomes more religious and the 30-meter white path, preceding the entrance staircase, prepares visitors to experience a mystic atmosphere. A 60cm gap in the middle of the staircase, allows the visitor to see the horizon and the ocean. On the west side of the structure, a smell bell is hung on the roof, while in the east, we can see a minimalist cross, as if to create a balance between the two facades. È
The interior environment stands out for the its wooden benches and flooring and for its white walls whose raw texture is highlighted by zenithal light, transforming into a real skin.
The architects do not include many openings in their project, but they have studied a natural ventilation system. The only large horizontal window is on the east facade and overlooks the ocean, in addition, it is possible to find thin cracks on the walls and a 30 cm gap between the two roof faults, one of which folds internally as the handle of an umbrella, allowing the light to penetrate like a blade. At noon, from spring to autumn, when the sun reaches its highest point, the perpendicular light creates very special effects.
On the north side, the meditation space can accommodate one person at a time, with a sinuous wall that wraps the body and offers a view over the ocean.
The chapel serves the community on its west side. It can be used for religious moments, but also for cultural and public events or just to slow down the pace of the day, people here can also experience some moment in contact with nature and examine their inner state.
Credits: Shi Zheng/Aogvision
This article is taken from the last issue of ofARCH. For further reading, please go to the section Magazine.