Kamppi Chapel of Silence: Helsinki’s Haven of Peace

Gary Diskin - Feb 24, 2014
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The Kamppi Chapel is a Lutheran sanctuary situated on the Narinkka Square in Kamppi, Helsinki. It is commonly known as the "Kamppi Chapel of Silence" as it offers a perfect place to quiet down away from the hustle and bustle around its surroundings.

The chapel was built as a part of the World Design Capital program. K2S Architects Ltd is the company behind its exceptional architecture led by renowned architects such as Mikko Summanen, Kimmo Lintula and Niko Sirola. The Chapel is synonymous with innovative wood architecture that earned it a lot of attention and of course the International Architecture Award in 2010 even before its completion.

The most prominent part of the chapel is a 11.5 meter-high sacral space. The timber constructed space creates a calm environment that detaches you from the lively surroundings. The most notable features of this space include the indirect lighting and the warm timber surfaces on its walls and fittings. With an area of 270 square meters, the chapel houses the sacral space, discussion areas and an information lounge. It has a curved wood façade that extends into the surrounding scape. On the other hand, the chapel has a nicely shaped interior space and solid wood furniture that embraces visitors and detaches them from the lively surroundings. Its interior walls are made of alder planks.

There is a silver cross at the chapel’s altar that was sculpted by Antti Nieminen, a renowned artist blacksmith. Its Liturgical textiles were designed by Tiina Uimonen, a textile artist. The facades are made of spruce strips while the wood is treated with a special wax through nanotechnology. Massive gluelam beams (cut to shape) are used as frames.

Accordingly, the geometry and architecture of the chapel stems from the function and site, not from religious backgrounds. The church was opened in May 2012 and within the first six months after its opening, there were over 250,000 visitors. While some were there to fulfill their spiritual needs, others came to appreciate the amazing architecture.

Helsinki’s Parish Union and Social Services Department have partnered in running the activities of the Kamppi Chapel, though the parish unions of the two neighboring cities, Vantaa and Espoo, are also involved in various activities of the church. Although there is no regular church service being held in the Kamppi Chapel now, regular prayer moments are planned to be held in the future. Both the Social Services Department and the parish unions have posted some representatives in the chapel to engage visitors in personal discussions.

You can approach the Chapel from almost every direction. From the Simonkatu, visitors arrive at a small square that opens up to the Narinkkatori square. From there, they can follow the stairs that descend to the entrance level. Only the Chapel space is located inside a wooden frame. The remaining spaces are placed in a pedestal-like section that opens up towards Narinkkatori. The entrance hall is also used as a reception and exhibition space. You will enter the Chapel through a glass pedestal section, whether you approach it from the Narinkkatori or the Lasipalatsi direction.

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