Play Architecture in the Chapel of Mystery

Daily Draw September 14th, 2012

7 OF SPADES
T. Ando
Chapel on the Mt Rokko
Kobe
1985-86

Tadao Ando is a Japanese architect and completely self-taught. I admire him as an example of how, in a world of specialization, there are still people who can do it, who are born to the work, regardless of educational credentials.

This is a Christian chapel and he gives a nod to that with the classic belltower, but the chapel is quite close to a hotel so they rarely ring the bells, lest they disturb the hotel patrons.

The haunting thing about this design for me is the structure to the left of the chapel proper. It so reminds me of the entrance to a subway tunnel, but it has a mysterious quality to it, as if it is funnelling souls to heaven. It’s almost like a Ray Bradbury story where you go into the Paris Metro but you are really journeying somewhere else: Green Town, Illinois coming up, and Mars is Heaven.

When you are walking through the very long tunnel the exit is open so that it frames the natural scene at the end, like entering Narnia or having a snapshot of the seasons. I can’t quite explain this haunting quality it has.

The chapel itself is very minimalist and simple, which gives it a quiet, contemplative quality like handwoven linen. To the left on a hill is a colourful, beautiful garden and pond that overlooks the stark-looking chapel below it. The setting is beautiful and Mt. Rokko is not one mountain but a group of mountains, popular for sightseeing and hiking, so this is a perfect centre of calm amid the bustle of tourism.

It’s one of the nicest buildings I have seen, with this feeling of mystery, as much a hushed mystery as an ancient cathedral.

Peace. The place everyone longs for.

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2 Comments on “Play Architecture in the Chapel of Mystery”


  1. It’s a strange structure, isn’t it. I like the mysteriousness of it. It reminds me of those stories of the afterlife, where people jet down a tunnel.Great post and card!


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