Sayama Forest Chapel is one of the renown works by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP. Designed in 2013 amongst the landscape of the forest, the chapel blends harmoniously into its surroundings and features a distinct architectural style.
Phong Nguyen – a member of Handhome photo sharing community visited the chapel during his time working in Japan and share some images, he also talks about his experience on Japanese lifestyle and architecture.
Handhome: Hi Phong, please introduce yourself to Handhome and our readers.
Phong Nguyen: My name is Phong Nguyen. I was born in 1988 in Da Lat. I’ve graduated from Van Lang university and my major was architecture. I’m working for Vietnamese branch of AndoHazama corporation – a Japanese construction company. I worked at the company’s headquarter in Japan for over a year, so I had a chance to approach Japanese lifestyle. The photos I shared were taken during that time.
Please tell us your understanding about Sayama Chapel.
You can imagine that this building has 2 separate areas, and is managed by a public service company.
Area 1: Sayama lakeside cemetery – Community hall.
If you come here by train from central Tokyo, you will see this building first. It is the office building of the cemetery where the employees work. This is also a place for the visitors to take a rest. The structure of this building is made of steel, with a part of reinforced concrete structure and another one is wooden. The construction area is about 458 square meters. The design period was from November 2010 to September 2011 . And the construction period was from 2011 December to January 2013.
Area 2: Sayama Forest Chapel.
Walking through the cemetery area, you will see this chapel. Here is the place where the ceremony was held. The structure is reinforced concrete and another one is made of wood. The construction area is about 70 square meters. The design period was from April 2011 to September 2012. And the construction period was from December 2012 to January 2014.
My advice for those who want to make a visit: Similar to other chapels or churches in Japan, the management department of those buildings always has a specific plan for the ceremony organization. So if you want to visit, make an appointment by call in advance..
In the case that you come with an appointment, the manager will take you on a tour and he will answer your questions very carefully (like a professional tour guide). Moreover, you will be allowed to enter the places that the public are not allowed to. All is free, of course. The picture above was taken during the visiting time. A funeral was held after that. Looking at the preparation, I can imagine the actual use of this space in the ceremony.
Please tell us the reason why you have chosen this building to visit?
From my love for the architectural spaces which are associated with the culture and the daily life, since I’ve known about the concept of “The Chapel”, I want to learn more about it by seeing actual buildings.
I heard about Hiroshi Nakamura – a young Japanese architect who is famous for The Ribbon Chapel – through the conversations with my Japanese colleagues. So, I searched more information about NAP, and I selected Sayama Chapel to visit. (The Ribbon Chapel is quite far from Tokyo, so I couldn’t visit).
On the last days of spring, with the aim of going to the Sayama Forest to carry out “forest bathing” – a Japanese stress relief therapy – I visited Sayama Chapel. I came to the chapel at the scheduled time, then I went to the forest. When I returned from the forest, I came to the chapel for the second time to see this place at 2 different times on a day.
What do you like best about the design style of Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP?
I was impressed by Ribbon Chapel and Optical Glass House. I want to learn more about space, natural light and material from Hiroshi Nakamura.
The three elements cannot be conveyed through photos but rather be felt by all senses. For example, you should observe anything which is about the building, the time and the climate. You should touch and smell the materials or look at the details between them. I admire the architects who inspire me to do those things.
How do you think about Japanese architecture?
In my opinion, “Japanese architecture” is about the constituent elements (such as natural conditions, lifestyle, people, and the technology of Japan) and my feelings about my current job. Let me tell you about my impressions which I had when I came to Japan for the first time. They are based on my feelings about the places which I’ve visited, not the whole country.
The arrangement of “real” green spaces
In downtown, “real” green spaces are arranged between high buildings and large concrete yards. Getting into these spaces, your feelings will completely change.
Humane design standards
The majority of public toilets are targeted at many kinds of users, ranging from children, women to seniors.
Perfection of simple things.
And the simple yet meaningful details.
Below are the three great ideas which I noted:
1. 599 Takao Museum / Daikoku Daigo.
The water from the drain is ejected from the ground. I looked around to know how its works.
2. Mochisho Shizuku Shinmachi / Yoshihiro Ishida.
Seeing a small square hole on this wall, you will wonder if it has any purpose. After I got inside, I was so excited to know that is the way to the restroom.
3. “Inside out” exhibition – Torafu Architect.
At this exhibition, I saw many small objects, which are not really the architectural models, arranged around a toy railway. I didn’t understand their purposes.
Finally, I was so excited while watching this video at the cinema room.
Moreover, I was interested in the design principles of the Japanese architects I met. I heard about the geographical features like earthquake or tsunami, the theories like wabi-sabi, how European architecture affects their designs.
I have learned how to know what is important and what is not important in my thinking and life. And I’ve found the way to accept imperfect things as well as feel the beauty in those.
Let’s watch my short video:
Are you planning any architecture tour in this year?
I haven’t got any plan yet.
How do you think about Vietnamese traditional architecture?
When it comes this subject, I always think more about the source elements that made the Vietnamese traditional culture. They are so important. If I have a chance to carry out a research into this subject, I will begin with the most primitive elements like the natural conditions and people.The regional characteristics are made from them. And they affect to the personal living space, and the public. Traditional architecture has been from originated there.
Thank you for sharing with us!