Intertwining staircases spiral around the glazed
core of Hiroshi Nakamura's Ribbon Chapel

| 13 comments

Two curving staircases encircle the exterior of this wedding chapel by Tokyo-based architect Hiroshi Nakamura, meeting at a rooftop platform that overlooks the Hiroshima coastline (+ slideshow).

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

The Ribbon Chapel by Hiroshi Nakamura takes its name from the pair of timber-clad staircases that wind around the exterior of the glazed wedding chapel.



House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

The 15.4-metre-tall structure is set on a grassy hillside in the grounds of the hotel Bella Vista Sakaigahama to take in views of the Seto Inland Sea, which borders the city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Ribbon-Chapel-by-Hiroshi-Nakamura-_dezeen_468_1

The intertwining staircases, which cross paths at several points to provide support for each other, are designed to be symbolic of the unity that matrimony brings. The stairs are clad in vertical planks of white-painted wood, and have curving titanium zinc alloy handrests to withstand erosion from the sea breeze.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

"Just as two lives go through twists and turns before uniting as one, the two spirals seamlessly connect at their 15.4-metre summit to form a single ribbon," said Nakamura.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

The body of the marriage ceremony is conducted inside the glazed chapel, where a wooden aisle bracketed by two banks of seating leads to an altar.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

Nuptials are completed on the rooftop, where the two staircases widen and connect to unite the bride and groom who travel up separate flights. Once the vows are completed the couple can then pick one route to descend together.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

Aside from the symbolic nature of the structure, the architect said the double stairs were chosen to create a stable structure.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

"By entwining two spiral stairways, we realised a free-standing building of unprecedented composition and architecturally embodied the act of marriage in a pure form," he said.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

The two staircases support each other horizontally, while steel posts with a diameter of 10-centimetres bear the vertical load to form a stable structure. These posts, designed by engineering firm Arup, were deliberately slanted at construction stage and righted into a vertical position by gravity once the supports were removed.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk

Photography is by Nacasa and Partners.

House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk
Diagram – click for larger image
House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk
Location plan – click for larger image
House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk
Floor plan – click for larger image
House Passage of Landscape by ihrmk
Section – click for larger image
  • spiral boy

    Simply beautiful. Outstanding.

  • spadestick

    Zaha eat your heart out… this is far, far better than weird shapes and blobs that are only seen and not experienced. LIKE.

  • Charlie Bing

    Whoa. That’s breathtaking.

  • Osama Aboelezz

    I am not Christian, but I would just love to get married there!

  • munchman

    And the first fight as a married couple begins with whose stairs they take back down…

  • Donkey

    Lost for words… Amazing!

  • Chris MacDonald

    Absolutely stunning.

  • Salomey Adjei-Doku

    Amazing, simply beautiful.

  • Such an embodiment of concept, form, and experience.

  • This place is just beautiful.

  • TwilightNewsSite

    Disappointed to see the “ribbons” are fitted with stairs, not as a smooth ramp. Aside from not being wheelchair accessible, which is a pity, ESPN2 would have snapped up broadcasting rights for grown-up “Big Wheel” races in a heartbeat. What a loss.

  • EFS

    WOW!

  • tatline

    Very cool, reminds me of the very well known Tatlin tower:
    http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/inventingabstraction/?work=226