The Suvela Chapel creates a natural highpoint within its surroundings. The outward shape of the building is varied beneath a folded roof line, presenting an interesting silhouette from each new vantage point. The copper-clad chapel extends from the ground over the roof and belfry, resulting in a coherent, sculptural impression. The interior of the main hall is powerful in its simplicity.
The building forms clear delineation for traffic routes around it and the yard area it encloses. With its copper façade, the building wraps around a courtyard which is intimate and inviting in scale.
The courtyard provides a tranquil space before entering the building. The lobby spaces afford views through the delicate silkscreened glass wall towards the sacral spaces. The direct top light is complemented by backlight flooding through a strip of windows, coloured and textured by a glasswork by Hannu Konola, entitled I am alive. The walls and the ceiling are lined with vibrantly profiled wood panels.
The building also houses some facilities serving the residents’ park, making it a natural meeting point for people of all ages. The spaces open towards a courtyard, which successfully creates visual cohesion for the complex. The material palette in the interior is subdued throughout, while giving each space individual and identifiable character.
The Suvela Chapel is the latest in the body of work by OOPEAA’s Anssi Lassila on sacral buildings. The Kärsämäki Shingle Church (2004), Klaukkala Church (2004) and Kuokkala Church (2010), and now Suvela Chapel, all share certain family resemblances but are ultimately each a unique work of architecture. What these churches have in common is a strong sense of material and the skill of the architect to create spaces that are innately sacral.
“The chapel is very concrete, not because of its formal presence but because of its spatial qualities and the contrasting materials. The copper will probably age beautifully. The interior clad in thin wooden strips creates a welcoming environment for the activities. The sculptural quality of the design has a symbolic presence in this rather stretched space. All the parts work beautifully together.”
The Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2016 shortlist
The Finnish Architecture Biennial Review 2018 jury report