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Wood Innovation Inspiration: Fractal Geometries in a Timber Frame Chapel

Agri Chapel wooden frame

We love tried and true traditional timber frame designs, but if you’re feeling creative, check this out. Japanese architecture firm Momoeda Yu Architecture Office designed an interior structural system for a chapel that takes inspiration from trees, and the result is stunning.

agri chapel outdoor view

“We tried to connect the activity of the chapel to the natural surroundings seamlessly,” says lead architect You Momoeda of “Agri Chapel.”

Agri Chapel looking up

This is a Japanese-wooden chapel with a fractal structure system. The site is surrounded by a large national park overlooking the sea. We tried to connect the activity of the chapel to the natural surroundings seamlessly. In Nagasaki, there is an oldest wooden gothic chapel in Japan known as “Ohura-Tenshudou”. This chapel is not only a famous tourist point, but a place loved and cared for the townsfolk.”

Agri Chapel ceiling

The architects wanted to create an update to the gothic style for Agri Chapel, altering it to pay tribute to the forested environment. They created a “pendentive dome” shape by piling up tree-like units that gradually grow smaller in scale from the ground level to the ceiling, and used traditional Japanese joinery techniques to assemble them.

Agri Chapel interior at night

This wooden structure supports the 25-ton roof load while also adding incredible sculptural flair to the interior. It makes you wonder what other creative designs might be possible that still perform the job as well as timber frame styles like gambrel, barn, saltbox and raised cape.


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