Sunday, April 18, 2021

Case Studies

Chapel On The Water by Architect Tadao Ando

church on water by Architect Tadao Ando

Chapel On The Water by Architect Tadao Ando is a privately owned wedding chapel in Shimukappu Japan. The site was a contoured site. Also, an artificial lake was constructed on the site. Minimalist is the signature style of Tadao Ando. He is a self-taught architect. His signature style is to use geometrical shapes in designing while using natural light, concrete, and glass. He has designed nearly 300 buildings. Studying Tadao Ando itself is like discovering new depths in the field of architecture. You can learn so many new and unique things from his design that cannot learn in your basic theoretical syllabus of architecture. Every project of Tadao Ando is unique and can be studied as a case study.

However, Architecture is all about the art of blending the structure with the surrounding. And the best example is the work of Tadao Ando.

10 Most famous Pritzker prize winners throughout history - Sheet9
Architect Tadao Ando

“You cannot simply put something new into a place. You have to absorb what you see around you, what exists on the land, and then use that knowledge along with contemporary thinking to interpret what you see.’ You can see this philosophy in his work very prominently”

Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando is also known for preserving traditional Japanese architecture concepts in his designs. He started his journey as a truck driver and professional boxer. But his interest in architecture made him a self-learned architect. His creative vision, therefore, helped him to achieve this fame. 

Related Article: 4×4 House by Tadao Ando case study

‘The chapel on the water’ fascinates me the most among all the projects of Tadao Ando.

Chapel On The Water by Architect Tadao Ando
Chapel on the water

Chapel on the water


Chapel on the water is the privately owned wedding chapel in Shimukappu Japan. The site was a contoured site. Also, an artificial lake was constructed on the site. Meanwhile, Tadao Ando used the natural element on the site very creatively. It took 3 years for the construction. The project started in 1985 and completed in 1988. The chapel is part of Alpha Resort Hotel. The geographical location of the site is very interesting that in spring it becomes lush green while in the autumn it becomes brown and in the winter it becomes snow white.

  • Total area: 520 sq m
  • Built-up Area: 344.9 sq m
Chapel On The Water by Architect Tadao Ando
Location of the building


The concept of the project is the relation between the soul and the god. This project is the perfect blend of artificial elements and natural elements. Artificial element reflects the soul of a person while the natural elements like water, wind, light, flora, and fauna reflect god.

AD Classics: Church on the Water / Tadao Ando Architect & Associates |  ArchDaily
Chapel on the water concept

Tadao has created a space that connects particularly humans with nature instantly. Looking at the cross in the pond one cannot differentiate where the artificial space ends and nature starts. On the other hand, one can say that nature is an extension of the built-up space. It’s like poetry.

Also Read: 10 Most famous Pritzker prize winner in the history of Architecture

Creating spaces

The Design of the chapel is the intersection of the two cubes as well as half-cylinder. L- shaped wall separates the resort and the chapel. To the west side of the chapel is the couture slope which absolutely adds beauty to the design.

Chapel On The Water by Architect Tadao Ando
Sketch of the concept development

Details of the spaces

  • Cube 1: The larger cube which is the main chapel area is 15m x 15m.
  • Cube 2: Smaller cube which is a restroom and waiting area is 10m x 10m.
  • The intersection of the cube is 5m x5m
  • L- shape wall which separates the complex from the hotel is 39m x 75m
  • Lake is of dimension 45m x 90m.
  • Lake has a border of 15m. it is a platform
  • The entrance of the chapel is through the glass and steel cube which has 4 concrete crosses. The path leads the crosses and then down with the semicircular staircase to the larger cube which is the chapel. While entering the chapel one can see the steel cross, pond surrounding trees through a clear glass wall. Rest all the 3 walls are of concrete.

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Chapel On The Water by Architect Tadao Ando
Block model of The Chapel on the water

Construction details

Concrete is the main construction material. Besides the chapel, a supporting concrete portico is a giver which is 6.2 m high and 15.9 m extended. Not only it supports the chapel structurally but also adds aesthetic beauty to it. Portico houses the sliding screen which sits between the pond and the chapel. When the weather is clear the screen is opened.

In a corner of the chapel, there is a semicircular staircase. Below the light cube, there are three waiting rooms as well as hygiene services which are placed around a cylindrical glass space that receives overhead lighting via four glass surfaces (those which constitute the floor of the square of crosses).

Floor plan

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