Stunning domed chapel of wood built for divine communion

Shinslab Architecture
© Shinslab Architecture

From cross-laminated timber to high-rise wooden buildings, wood may be the greenest building material available, as it sequesters carbon for the building's lifetime, and is a renewable resource. There are many ways to utilize it; Korean firm Shinslab Architecture created this impressive space for a Protestant and Presbyterian community of retired missionaries of the Nam Seoul Grace Church, in a mountainous, forested village south of the capital of Seoul.

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

Named the Light of Life Chapel and seen over at ArchDaily, the space utilizes a series of massive Siberian red cedar timbers that were donated to the church back in 2008 by a businessman. The building's glass-lined exterior attempts to blend into its surroundings, and gives no clue to the tremendous, day-lit space of wood hidden within. The idea, the architects say, is to create "a world apart" from the exterior mass, its "own universe" :

While remaining within the principles of Protestantism and in the expression of Christian symbolism, the project attempts to bring forth emotions from a liturgical, philosophical, spiritual and artistic point of view.

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

According to the designers, the dome-like space was specifically chosen to echo early Calvinist ideas about church reform to create a suitable and inspiring space of worship, relative to Catholic ideas of hierarchy and the power of the priesthood. Here, instead, the designers note that the circle represents a "communion of the faithful, the equality of men in front of God and the abolition of hierarchy within the church" -- rather than a mediated distance from the divine, here we have a "personal encounter with God." Divinity is of course, situated at the space's centre, symbolized by a fragile, aluminum cross standing in a pool of water.

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

The surface of the dome is delineated by the sheared trunks of 834 upright cedar "trees," which are supported by a by the grounded timber poles which in turn hold a steel grid structure. It is further supported by a complementary network of steel lines. The whole hemispherical space is covered by a glass pyramid that allows natural daylight to pass through.

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

Shinslab Architecture© Shinslab Architecture

It's an evocative, awe-inspiring work that is made possible with the warmth, strength and vitality of wood, and it succeeds well in transmitting a sense of sacredness that virtually transcends religious affiliation. See more over at Shinslab Architecture and ArchDaily.

Stunning domed chapel of wood built for divine communion
The light of life is creatively embodied in this hemispherical space of red cedar wood.

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