St. Henry's Art Chapel
My first thought when I saw this copper covered building was that this is obviously Noah’s ark, which is for some reason flipped upside down. It turned out to be too obvious to be true. The ribs of the wooden construction are actually portraying the inside of a fish. After further readings I found out that the fish was the first symbol of Christianity and it is a suitable fit for all Christians despite of their congregation. Well that I call a great concept! Also, the idea of an art chapel is everything but new. The coexistence of art and ceremonies in the same space dates back to the Renaissance. Churches from that time are still used that way.
Therefore the building is one big hall in East-West alignment. It is divided into different zones only with minimal placement of further constructions. The entrance is from the West side of the building through a small foyer. Two functional boxes, from which one contains a restroom and the other work and storage spaces, are the only wall like setups. A small slope between those cubes, is leading foot and view all the way from the entrance door to the altar in the centerline of the chapel. Gallery and Ceremony are together in one space facing East.
There are only 3 windows in the chapel. One is a horizontal and functional light for a small work area on the northern side. Besides that, the hall is only lid by two indirekt windows on both ends of the building. In the corner above the entrance and around the altar, which was designed by Hannu Konola. Furthermore artificial spotlights were added to emphasize the pinewood interior. The combination of natural and artificial indirekt lighting creates a breathtaking and at the same time soothing play of light and shadow.
A proper understanding of the area and requirements is crucial for the success of any project. The task for Sanaksenaho Architects was to create a landscape sculpture, which is also a small building. It is located on a hill in a small village and center for cancer patients in the outskirts of Turku and close to the sea. The St. Henry’s Art Chapel is now settled in harmony with its surrounding and vegetation.