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Lilja Chapel

Oulu, Finland
1 of 9

UPM has built a small wooden chapel for the Housing Fair to be held in the city of Oulu in northern Finland. The chapel, which is the winner of a design competition opened to students of architecture, offers visitors a place for peace and meditation in the busy exhibition area.

Lilja, made from UPM's WISA wood products, is a temporary, transportable chapel for meditation purposes. The building has 70 m2 of floor space, including entrances and exits and the meditation room. The aim of the design was to have as much open space as possible. The building has no doors, the surfaces are very clear and simple, and explicit religious symbols have been avoided, but it is nevertheless easily identifiable as a sanctum.

The visitor is easily put in mind of a ship or bird - the name 'Lilja' ('Lily') itself refers to withering, change and evanescence. The design of the space aspires to create the sensation of a journey - the cycle of life. In any case, it offers the visitor a place to come to rest. The glass wall of the chapel room has a wooden motif made of plywood, symbolising growth and alluding to the forest, an important place of meditation for Finns. Concord between nature, ephemerality and the idea of transit have been central in the design. The chapel is illuminated by means of spot lights embedded in the floor, with the light sweeping the interior and accentuating the glass wall as the focus of meditation. The unison of light and wood, and the poetic nature of the living surface are clear elements of the expression of form.

Challenging structural design

The chapel, which is challenging in terms of structure and shape, was built using wooden prefabricated structural units. The project required some 400 construction drawings of the chapel and hours of design planning. Transportability and remountability added to the challenge of manufacturing the prefabricated units. By using wooden units it was possible to ensure high quality regardless of the weather conditions during construction, and easy dismantling and remounting of the chapel. The chapel is proof of the fact that the prefabricated unit construction method can even be applied to very complex buildings.

Chapel made from UPM's WISA products

The facade of the chapel is made of painted WISA-SP plywood. Water-proofed plywood panels are attached with metal profiles and countersunk screws, the heads of which have been sealed with polyurethane sealer. The internal bevelled walls at the end of the points of the lily are made of water jet cut WISA-Birch plywood that is treated with semi-transparent stain. The floors in the entrances and exits are made of thermoplastic-coated WISA-Multifloor plywood with an embossed pattern, and the wall panelling of knotless WISA-Pro Tasa panel. The floor of the chapel room is made of S4S WISA-Lam pine lamwood flooring panels, and the same material is used for the benches. The walls of the meditation room are clad with WISA-Birch plywood. The glass wall consists of sealed glass units, the interior sheet of the units being made of toughened glass blasted with silicon oxide and the exterior of toughened clear glass. The wooden motif between the glass sheets is made of water jet cut WISA-Birch plywood. The white powder-painted structures are aluminium.

The Lilja meditative chapel is the winner of a design competition. The competition was jointly arranged by the following organisations:UPM, the Wood Studio at the Department of Architecture of the University of Oulu, the City of Oulu and the Finnish Housing Fair Co-operative Organisation.

The main designer of the chapel at the Wood Studio is the winner of the design competition Vesa Oiva, architecture student.

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lacuna, January 5th, 2015
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