Located on the edge of a mountain lake at the center of the Pacific Island of Guam, the Ring Chapel responds to its colorful tropical setting and reflects its primary function through architectural devices such as transparency and engagement. The chapel’s form, tectonics and interior elements celebrate space and light- particularly the changing hues and shadows of the tropical day.

Project Type: Chapels

Completion: 2011-10-22

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Located on the edge of a mountain lake at the center of the Pacific Island of Guam, the Ring Chapel responds to its colorful tropical setting and reflects its primary function through architectural devices such as transparency and engagement. The chapel’s form, tectonics and interior elements celebrate space and light- particularly the changing hues and shadows of the tropical day.

Large windows in the chapel allow an almost seamless connection with the lake, gardens and dynamic sky above. Soaring curtain walls at both ends coupled with tall sashes along the nave give the chapel a high degree of transparency. These elements also evoke a sense of buoyancy and help give the impression of a building floating on the lake. An array of custom- designed brise soleil help control sun glare and modulate light, casting a striated pattern of shadows across the nave while accentuating the vault’s elliptical form. Bands of multicolored glass on the east curtain wall cast striped, azure and indigo shadows across the travertine floor.

The chapel engages its setting in a literal way. Its vault descends through slender columns into the earth, like two hands reaching into the ground. Projecting into the lake, the chapel’s vault is reflected into a perfect ellipse.  This ring, which is especially apparent at night in the lake’s still waters, lightens the chapel’s apparent mass while making an allusion to the notion of marriage as an enduring institution.

The “Crystal Shower”, a mobile designed by Atsuko Itoda, hangs from the vaulted ceiling. Comprised of 3,000 Swarovski crystals of various shapes and sizes, it is perpetually dancing and sparkling, refracting and reflecting sunlight into beams of rainbow light. Viewed from below, the crystals become raindrops in a suspended state. At night, in the glow of spotlights, they become a constellation of stars.

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Manenggon Hills, Guam, USA

Ring Chapel