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May 11 2020

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May 10 2020

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Sunlight Streams into a Windowless Church Made of Wooden Slats in Japan

All images © Taira Nishizawa

The understated inside of a church in Shizuoka, Japan, lacks the traditional iconography and ornate trimmings often found in similar spaces. Designed by Tokyo-based architect Taira Nishizawa, Sunpu Church is a windowless building made mostly of slatted pine. The open roof allows sunlight to fill the space and cast moving shadows depending on the time of day. It also creates a direct view upward to the sky.

Because the modest building is located next to a busy railway, Nishizawa soundproofed the outer walls to ensure a quiet space for worshipers. In an interview with Arch Eyes, he spoke about his conceptualization process.

The Church Sun-Pu required specific spatial qualities. Just thinking functionally about a church, it’s not much different from a classroom. But the space must feel very different, so I needed a strategy to control that environment directly…I manipulated the performance of the external walls and roof to control the light and sound conditions, which are what distinguishes a church from a normal classroom or meeting place.

Despite its singular cross and intricate entrance panel, the red cedar facade is similarly stark and has turned gray since it was built in 2008. Follow what Nishizawa’s up to on Twitter, and check out the book chronicling his wooden projects. (via Jeroen Apers)


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