Located in Finland, the Forest Chapel is a new addition to a popular campground called Tervajärvi. Hosting confirmation camps, small weddings or christenings, the chapel is a showcase of wood construction and volunteer spirit.
As the assembly of the chapel was carried out by volunteers, professionals prepared in advance to ensure ease of assembly with glulam parts, for example, coming prefabricated from a factory.
The single most important component of the chapel is the glulam timber roof truss. The truss design was based on structures found in nature, with a cross-section of the components in a harmonious proportion to their height. In the final design, beams curving along with the roof act as their own diagonal stiffening structure. As no transverse structures were designed within the relatively small interior space, a corner joint had to be moment-resistant.
Made from Finnish spruce, the glulam beam is formed of four 15mm lamellas with a total cross-section of 60 x 240 mm. The visual part of the corner joints is a surface lamella that continues along the length of the roof. The structural part is contained within the joint: a horizontal section that leads vertical loads downwards. Rotational stiffness of joints is achieved by placing screws in a circumferential pattern, with the screw holes being plugged. The other structural components are also designed so that no fasteners are visible from indoors.
Inside, the chapel features movable larch furniture with brass components. All items were designed by local carpenter Puusepänliike Hannes Oy. Joints and other furniture details were developed in collaboration with the carpenter.
The architect, Lassi Viitanen of Architecturestudio NOAN says of the design and its small scale in particular: ‘Instead of institutional built symbols and their associated traditions, I see future church buildings as being smaller sacral spaces that emphasize joy and communality, yet also afford consolation. The form and proportions of the sacral building should convey the message of a place that provides space for tranquillity.’