Chapel on Mount Rokko

Tadao Ando – Nishitaniyama, Rokkosan-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi 657-0101 Japan, 1986

This small chapel located on Mount Rokko, near Kobe, completes the trilogy of Christian religious structures designed by Tadao Ando in the mid-1980s. While not enjoying the same reputation as the Church on the water or the Church of light, the chapel on Mount Rokko becomes a synthesis of its predecessors and underlines the architect's effort to establish a link between religious space and nature.
In this chapel Ando uses the materials of cement, glass and light to create a powerful spiritual place through a rich spatial sequence of light and dark, direct and indirect natural light. His usual architectural vocabulary: simple geometry, meticulously studied and delicate games of light and shadow, as well as the modulated exposed concrete surfaces that interact with metal and glass.
However, this chapel includes western elements such as the bell tower, which plays a formal rather than utilitarian role, becoming a vertical counterpoint to a predominantly horizontal composition.
Unlike the towers of the western church where the bell called parishioners to religious services and other events, in this case the bells are rarely rung, to avoid disturbing the customers of the hotel where the chapel is located.
As in other churches, Ando avoids direct and pompous access to the chapel. Instead, use a 40-meter-long concrete porch, covered with opaque turquoise glass, on which it once stands in steel and glass. This tunnel provides processional access to the chapel, emphasizing the majesty of the approach to marriage.
However, this view of the tunnel does not lead directly to the building or to a monumental access, since the chapel is located on one side of the path. The tunnel frames nature, or in this case the garden.
The next space is a dark hall defined by a curved wall which invites the visitor to enter the chapel establishing a transition between darkness and light, the mundane space and the sacral area.
Subsequently, the space is enlarged to generate the main chapel, a 6.5 m cube on each side where a wall has been replaced by a large window, using the structure to represent the theme of the cross.

In this way Ando reaches virtual contact with nature, through a framed view of the landscape and a sumptuous display of light. The effect is reinforced by the contrast of the colorful garden and the solemn monochromatic room.
A different type of light sharply illuminates the area of ​​the altar through a thin elongated crack located at the intersection of the wall with the roof. This function allows an ever-changing play of light on the rough surface of the concrete, whose appearance changes according to the time of day and day of the year.
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