School of Design

Daniela Casadio

'Wedding hotels' are popular venues for marriage in Japan. These buildings accommodate the various rituals of marriage within a single complex. This design studio proposed a building for marriage on an urban site in Kobe, Japan.

The program for the building was a small boutique hotel containing a wedding chapel, accommodation, reception, banquet rooms, dressing rooms, a retail component and associated service areas. This was to be incorporated on a site with an existing nineteenth century chartered bank building.

The design proposed to sink a courtyard through the existing structure and use this as a linking device between the old and the new buildings. The accommodation component, located within the former, and the banquet halls, in the latter, are arranged around this large central space. The courtyard configuration allows an optimal degree of separation between these public and private functions of the hotel.

The Wedding Chapel forms the metaphoric centrepiece of the hotel and sits within a reflection pool in the central courtyard. It is located in the basement level of the complex, and its rooftop forms the hotel-restaurant’s alfresco terrace. The dual-level courtyard allows hotel patrons increased amenity within a highly urbanised setting, while also affording the wedding ceremony within the subterranean chapel ambiguity from the public eye.

The design of the Wedding Chapel is informed by traditional Japanese marriage rituals while also allowing spatial flexibility for non-traditional ceremonies. Importantly, the focus of the chapel is directed towards the water altar and, therefore, towards the bride and groom; and ceremonies can be intimate or large, open-air or enclosed, flamboyant or reverential.