O-office Architects designs a sweeping concrete form for a seaside chapel in China

A magnificent white chapel on Jinting Bay situates itself as "a statue of the sea" amidst a context marked by a soul-less high rise townscape.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Mar 08, 2022

O-office Architects' design of a chapel reveals a sculptural beacon illuminating a landscape where the land and water intersect. Located on the Jinting Bay, in the coastal town of Magong from southern China, the site for the chapel surrounds a context, which in the past was identified as a fishing town. Over the years, with the advent of urbanisation rooted in seafood trade and burgeoning tourism, the fishing settlements have transformed into a heterogeneous, high density townscape, a glimpse of which could be seen in the photographs of the chapel.

The Jinting Bay Chapel is surrounded by a heterogeneous high-rise townscape | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
The Jinting Bay Chapel is surrounded by a heterogeneous high-rise townscape Image: Wu Siming
The chapel is designed as the statue of the sea | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
The chapel is designed as the statue of the sea Image: Wu Siming

A pristine white concrete exterior seated amidst cookie-cutter high risers, the chapel looks like an anomaly that has surreally landed on the beach. Referred to as "the statue of the sea" by its architects, the sweeping form of the chapel creates “a new spiritual and figurative anchor” for the dynamically transforming coastline. A triangular space in plan, the architecture presents a dichotomous pair of facades in dialogue with the context. At the entrance side, a linear axis in 1:10 (height by width) ratio faces the city, whereas a 5:1 towering vertical axis housing the main chapel overlooks the beachfront. Drawing people into the building by acting as a meditative portal, the inland entrance is accessed via a 36 metre-long paved walkway that cuts through a pool, facing the frontage. As per O-office Architects, the disposition of this façade is such that it allows people in the middle of an urban jungle a place of spiritual repository. Inside, on the ground level, one passes through a courtyard that leads into the chapel spread before the beachfront facing facade. "Dramatically compressed and stretched into a beacon on the edge of the ocean" as per O-office Architects, this vertical narrow opening is sheathed in glass. While this storey remains specifically for ceremonial worship, the basement floor is kept for building services, storage and a waiting room.

  • The city facing entrance is accessed by a 36-metre paved walkway cutting through a large water feature | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
    The city facing entrance is accessed by a 36-metre paved walkway cutting through a large water feature Image: Wu Siming
  • A closer view of the chapel’s entrance | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
    A closer view of the chapel’s entrance Image: Wu Siming
Interiors of the chapel | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
Interiors of the chapel Image: Wu Siming

The material palette comprises concrete employed on the exteriors while floor to ceiling glass features on the façade, internal doors and partition walls. The permeating white, both on the outdoors and within the functional areas inside, resonates with the spiritual nature of the space.

The sea-facing elevation features a compressed vertically expanded form| Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
The sea-facing elevation features a compressed vertically expanded form Image: Wu Siming
The magnificent curving form of the chapel renders the building the image of a landmark | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
The magnificent curving form of the chapel renders the building the image of a landmark Image: Wu Siming

The design scheme steered by architects He Jianxiang and Jiang Ying – founders of Guangzhou-based O-office Architects - examine the idea of an "image of the sea" with a parallel perspective of history. Wielding a monumental yet minimal approach, a landmark is created to establish a new identity of the coastline, and signalling a renaissance to the seemingly soul-less architecture we see in the chapel’s background.

  • Basement level plan | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
    Basement level plan Image: Courtesy of O-office Architects
  • First floor plan | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
    First floor plan Image: Courtesy of O-office Architects
  • Section | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
    Section Image: Courtesy of O-office Architects
  • Structural axonometric | Jinting Bay Chapel | O-office Architects | STIRworld
    Structural axonometric Image: Courtesy of O-office Architects

Previously published chapels on STIR include the rippling concrete monolith in Hebei, China - Chapel of Sound by OPEN Architecture; a pile of logs making up the Wooden Chapel in Unterliezheim, Germany, by British designer John Pawson; and the forest-like Imaculada Chapel in Braga, Portugal, by Cerejeira Fontes Architects, to name a few. The upcoming 2022 Serpentine Pavilion by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, named The Black Chapel, will be paying a homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions.

Project Details

Name: Jinting Bay Chapel
Location: Shanwei City, Guangdong Province, China
Gross Built Area: 384 sqm
Project Year: 2018 -2020
Design Team:
Principal Architect: He Jianxiang & Jiang Ying
Project Team: Cai Xinqian, Huang Chengqiang, Peng Weisen
Structural Consultant: Lao Xiaojie, Sang Xiling
M.E. Consultant: Bun Cong M&E Design
Floodlight Consultant: BPI

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