Ribbon Chapel, built in 2013 by architects Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Architects, is located specifically in the garden resort hotel, “Bella Vista Sakaigahama,” in Onomichi, Hiroshima. Positioned midway on a hill, this unique architectural chapel, embodies the purest concept of marriage.

Two separate organic spiral stairways entwining and becoming as one, not only reflects on the concept of marriage, but allows for an architecturally sound and stable building which can withstand the natural elements.

Ribbon Chapel – Architectural details

Customarily, a building is composed of simple elements: roof, wall, and floor. Here, however, in the Ribbon Chapel, the intertwining stairways perform as roofs, eaves, walls, and floors. The stairways widen in response to location and function, all while allowing for the full enjoyment of the panoramic views of the Inland Sea of Japan.

Ribbon Chapel – Exterior

The building’s exterior is finished in upright wood panels, painted white so it ages gracefully as time passes.

Titanium zinc alloy which is resistant to damage from the sea breeze and pliable enough has been used for all the arched details of the architecture. Further using the zinc alloy on the coping, walls, ceilings and window sashes, has allowed for a simple design unified by means of use of a single material.

In this architectural structure, all glass windows differ in height, thickness, and shape. This allows the glass pane to move freely under the three-dimensional torque of the building during an earthquake or strong winds.

Ribbon Chapel – Layout

By intertwining two spiral stairways, they allowed for a more secured free-standing building, which embodies the act of marriage in it’s purest form.

Connecting the four points in four directions where the two stairways approach closely together with coupling elements, a three dimensional hoop was produced for restraining the outward swell and a three dimensional brace effect for resisting horizontal forces, by making the two spirals mutually supporting and self-standing. This way the outer spiral is coupled to the inner spiral in the form of an overhang.

It was foreseen that when the building was to be supported on its own and the falsework were removed, it would undergo maximum 30 mm rotational sedimentation under its own weight, which could cause the intermediate posts to lean.

The structural model which was developed, applied the same amount of reverse torque as the predetermined natural rotational force which causes the sedimentation.

As a result, the deliberately leaned posts for construction, became vertical after the completion of construction and stayed within a 2/1,000 margin of error between floors.

Ribbon Chapel – Ceremony

Just as two lives go through twists and turns before uniting as one, the two spiral pathways seamlessly connect to form a single ribbon.

The ceremony takes form as the bride and groom climb separate stairways to meet each other at the top, and claiming their union as one. Then the two walk back down the stairway together, and at the core of their celebration is a chapel where the people who have supported the bride and the group are waiting.

The Chapel aisle looks toward an existing symbol tree and the alter stands before that tree, with 80 seats positioned for the views of the ocean and trees, there is no place this to experience the celebration of marriage.

The Ribbon Chapel is the definition of a whimsical wedding ceremony any bride and groom would have dream of having.