The illuminated pentagon of the Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel stands isolated and bright, like a lighthouse calling its ships home. The chapel, designed by AZL Architects, is placed on a riverbank site in Wanjing Garden, a park in the city of Nanjing, China. Once inside, one is struck by an overwhelming lack of colour; white is abound. Despite initial appearances, this design is far from simple. The whitewashed interior demands nothing from its patrons but to sit and reflect, and because it cannot be avoided, gaze up at the stunning ceiling. The ceiling, ablaze from hidden light sources, is an intricate formation of woodwork with alternating angles. The beams and joists are constructed flawlessly, and often appear to be floating in place.
The structure’s exterior profile is also notable. A tall triangle looms when viewed from the front of the site: a false façade, it is transparent and allows one a peak inside the chapel’s activities. On the other side, an inverted roofline dips in the middle, drawing the viewer’s eye down to the chapel’s refection in a calming pool.
Garden Chapel is a wonderful example of how a few elements can come together to achieve perfection. The design is in the details, as they say.