The Thorncrown Chapel in the woods near Eureka Springs in Arkansas in the USA blends in so beautifully with its surroundings that that it could easily be mistaken for just another grove of trees.
Sustainable architecture is a key issue of contemporary times but it is interesting to note that the Thorncorwn Chapel was built in 1980. More than 30 years later, the transparent glazed façade and timber trusses still create the idea that one is in the middle of a great forest, rather than in a constructed chapel.
When the owner of the site, Jim Reed, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright architect alumni E Fay Jones to design and build the site, he was adamant that the building should highlight the natural beauty of the site. The Thorncrown Chapel was awarded the 25 Year Award by the American Institute of Architects.
Inside the chapel, much of the magic lies in the detail, the steel joints on the trusses, the lanterns, the reflection of the glass and the steel roof. The vertical and diagonal cross-tension tresses were made from locally-sourced pine wood, and most other materials were also locally sourced. The floor of the chapel is made out of flagstone and lined with a rock wall, to create continuity with the surrounding environment.
The Thorncrown Chapel allows visitors to experience the forest from the inside out. At night the illuminated interior stands in sharp contrast to the dark forest, making it almost ghostly.