Doshisha Chapel Complex Competition Entry / BAKOKO + Structured Environment


Architects BAKOKO, in collaboration with engineers Structured Environment, shared with us their proposal for a new chapel and Center for Christian Culture at Doshisha University’s campus. With structure, form, and function molded into a singular totality, their intention is not to draw attention to the form of the building, but rather, to merge floor, walls, and roof into an immersive experience prioritizing personal reflection and human interaction within the central sanctums. More images and architects’ description after the break.

roof toward chapel / © BAKOKO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Proposing to connect the two new facilities with a bridging roof, the notion of continuity is extruded within the cores of this figure-eight formation, to house two sanctuaries devoted to religious worship and culture. At the point where the loops merge, the roof arches over a campus thoroughfare, linking two new buildings dedicated to worship and parochial classes, gatherings, and exhibitions. The green roof reduces rainwater runoff and also helps to offset the loss of plants and trees which previously inhabited these greenfield sites.

roof toward lounge / © BAKOKO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

One of the university’s motivations to build this new facility was to host lucrative weddings in the chapel, with the complementary cultural center serving as an occasional reception venue. The wedding procession can symbolically walk across the undulating roofscape from chapel to reception – via an elevator and stairs – to mark the special occasion. In day-to-day operation, the roof will be a publicly accessible gathering and relaxation space for students.

ground level center / © BAKOKO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Nested within the opposite cores are twin sanctuaries devoted to worship and education. The smooth concrete forms encircling these spaces have no hard corners or boundaries. They appear limitless and are intended to permit and encourage free flexible forms of worship and communication.

downhill / © BAKOKO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Suspended cable nets support the glazed roof above each core – held in rigid tension due to their saddle-like curvature – without visually obstructing views to the sky above. A gradated frit pattern is applied to the overhead glass, shading worshipers in the center, but becoming less dense at the edges where sunlight filters onto the concrete.

exhibition space / © BAKOKO (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The curved concrete walls and floors arch up and outward, deriving their structural integrity from their shell-like double curvature. The roof cantilevers outward over the support and circulation spaces arrayed around the facilities’ perimeter. The building is almost entirely wrapped by a full-height glass facade that exposes the concrete form of the sanctuaries to views from the exterior. The concrete floors of the building follow the subtle topography of the site. and merge with the sanctuary walls – a move that enhances seamless continuity with and gives the impression that the structure is an extension of the ground.

Architects: BAKOKO + Structured Environment
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Client: Doshisha University
Status: Competition proposal
Floor Area: 1,016 sqm
Year: 2012


Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Doshisha Chapel Complex Competition Entry / BAKOKO + Structured Environment" 27 Jan 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>