Under an arched framework, this astonishing chapel design in Finland finds new ways of expressing old, powerful feelings like faith. Designed by Helsinki-based Sanaksenaho Architects, the steeply arching chapel design surprises with a curious mix of building materials. The exterior is clad in shiny copper, while the interior was lined with the warmth of wood, which will become reddish with time.

St. Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel is more than a place of contemplation for patients and visitors of a neighboring cancer-care center under the supervision of the non-profit St Henry’s church organisation. This chapel in Finland is a step in the right direction, a walk down the path of using beauty to improve function for a meaningful collection of moments.

Curving pine ribs define the alluring architecture. These are easily reminiscent of boats and the dynamic design they need in order to sail harsh seas. The St Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel in Finland took years to build as it was first imagined back in 1995 when architects won an architectural competition for the ecumenical chapel’s design. But as all journeys, this chapel’s story just began: “During the past year it has served numerous times as a place for baptisms, weddings and funeral services as well as concerts and art exhibitions.”

The chapel grows from its site, which is a hillock surrounded by pines. It rises from the landscape as a traditional sacral building. It has the appearance of an upturned ship – or a form of the fish. The design speaks with contrasts of shadow and light, copper and wood. The copper cladding will be weathered green with time, so it will blend with the surrounding trees and nature.

There was the idea to integrate art with the religious space already in the competition program. The chapel offers good acoustics for concerts and the back space of the nave can be transformed into an art gallery by removing the benches. In the high altar windows artworks by artist Hannu Konola filter the light onto the altar wall. The most important building material besides wood and copper is natural light. It gets the forms, spaces and surfaces live all day long. The idea is to walk through shadowy spaces towards altar and the light, the source of which is hidden.”

Photographed by Jussi Tiainen, the contemporary chapel design spreading over 300 square meters should leave a mark on you. We would love to know your thoughts about this modern chapel design, so share them in the comments below. Spread the love!