Sayama Forest Chapel by architect Hiroshi Nakamura is part of the Sayama Lakeside Cemetery. Ultra-precision construction technology was used to create a frame that doubles as the building’s surface, and the altar was positioned so worshippers can face the forest where, during morning services, the sun lights up the surrounding trees. Pillars join at the top to form a “sasu” (truss-like) frame, and the roof was thatched with sand-cast aluminum tiles handcrafted by local artisans. “Creating a comfort zone or the feeling of comfort does not mean we have to exclude the harshness of nature,” explains Nakamura. “Of course we should protect ourselves from storms, cold winds, and hot summers, as long as we don’t forget to contemplate how they have always been part of our existence. Doing so provides the ultimate feeling of comfort.” Nakamura’s unique sense to wed his structures with nature is a concept that was also observed by Wallpaper magazine, whose editors honored the 42-year-old innovator with their prestigious Design Award in 2015.
For Nakamura, the link to nature is wood. “When we touch it, we can feel its grooves and this reminds us of our own skin, the pattern of our fingerprints. Wood creates a constant feedback-loop between us and a natural environment that we run danger of cutting off completely from our city lives.” No wonder that Nakamura created the first 3D computer program that helps protect roots and branches when houses are built between trees. It can simulate and predict the growth of the plant, as well as the swaying of branches during typhoons, and also suggests how to best place foundations to protect roots.