Jun Aoki’s shimmering pavilion continues the Japanese vogue for inventive wedding chapels

Delight: Jun Aoki’s shimmering pavilion continues the Japanese vogue for inventive wedding chapels

Michael Webb

It’s entirely appropriate that Jun Aoki, who has sustained his Tokyo practice by creating glamorous stores for Louis Vuitton (in addition to inventive houses and an impressive new art museum at Amori), should now have designed a sensuous wedding chapel for the Osaka Hyatt Regency. For a Vuitton bag and a white wedding are two trophies that every young Japanese woman covets, and architects have added value to this commercial bonanza. From Tadao Ando to Super Potato, they enthusiastically conjure settings for marital bliss that draw a steady stream of couples to every major hotel at weekends.

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Here, Aoki has followed the lead of Sey Takeyama (AR July 2006) in creating a free-standing structure. From the hotel lobby it resembles a gleaming, sharp-prowed yacht, moored in the water garden and about to sail away. Delicate steel columns support an angled canopy high above the entrance, and a bridge plays the role of gangplank. Screen walls of 1500 interlocking steel rings diffuse light (much like the mesh facades of Aoki’s stores), and shut out the intimidating mass of the high-rise hotel. Low-set expanses of clear glass frame greenery. The architect calls his creation the White Chapel, but Hyatt have christened the hexagonal space Eternity–an optimistic prediction for the unions it consummates–and the gauzy white interior with its floor of marble tesserae does suggest a movie set for the after-life. The cross is an optional prop, along with a heavenly choir, but Aoki has achieved an ideal balance of Zen purity and Western spirituality. Dramatic by day, it appears even more ethereal by night, its shimmering image mirrored in the dark water.

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