St. Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel

The main idea of the chapel is a silent journey through obscure dimly lit space to the altar, bathed in light. In addition to wood and copper, the main building material is natural light, which brings the shapes and surfaces of the chapel to life as the sun traverses the sky.

The building stands on top of a hill covered in conifers, rather like a traditional sacral building. The profile of the roof follows the shape of the hill and the copper cladding that will turn green as it ages will link the colour of the building to the colour of the conifers on the hill. Thus, the chapel will merge into the nature surrounding it.

The chapel has been inspired by the form of a fish. The glulam arches rise like fish bones, providing the building with its natural form and its load-bearing structures. The arches are prefab elements that have been made using the same mould. Adjusting their height will make the building’s shape organically variable.

The knottiness of the glulam highlights the wood’s characteristic nature. The walls of the building have been angled against the glulam frame. The internal cladding has been made of untreated pine panels. The furnishings in the vestibule have been made of solid European alder. The benches, altar and floor of the hall have been made from pine boards.

The smell of the wood greets you as enter the room. In time, the surfaces will obtain a reddish hue due to natural light shining on them and the patina of time will show. The cross, which is made of pine, will act as a cross to be used in front of processions; behind the altar, it will be placed in its stand.

Project in brief

St. Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel

  • Location | Turku
  • Purpose | Chapel
  • Constructor/Client | Pyhän Henrikin kappelin kannatusyhdistys
  • Volume | 2 052 m3
  • Architectural Design | Sanaksenaho Architects ltd.
  • Structural design | Narmaplan Oy
  • Pääurakoitsija | Hartela Oy
  • Photographs | Kimmo Räisänen and Jussi Tiainen
  • Text | Matti Sanaksenaho