Spiritual spaces in the woods

Designing the Joa Chapel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was a unique challenge because of the irregular topography of the land.

In these natural surroundings where trees kiss the sky in the presence of the sea, worshippers can experience a quiet haven away from urban traffic.

The conceptual search for simplicity has guided the design of the project and has allowed a systematic construction. The two steel beams that support the upper roof are supported by only two points – the existing road and the column that rises at the bottom of the site.

The main structure supports plywood frames, which at the same time structure the envelope of the internal space. Glass walls line and protect the wooden structure, while they blend in with the forest through the reflection of the trees.

Inside the chapel, the perception of the forest is possible through the rhythmic sequence of frames. These gradually increase in height and lead the views to the ocean. The large metal pillar supports a roof of vertices that rises and becomes the cross framed by the landscape.

The chapel is present between the treetops, at a height that allows the view of infinity. It is a space with a conceptual simplicity that is steeped in its materiality and its constructive solutions, which improves the sensory experience of those seeking silence and reflection.


Text: Bernardes Arquitetura/ Images: Tuca Reinés