Ullem Chapel offers a framed view of a “century tree” –a ranch marker used for wayfinding throughout the hills—the chapel’s focus in a sacred landscape. The chapel is intended for the family that lives on this land, rendered with an agrarian frugality, and is intended as a temporal insertion to screen the ruins of houses belonging to past stewards in the nearby trees. The designers note, “the march of the horizontal wall slats feels familiar, but in this context with gothic arches, there is tension.” The structure appears vernacular in this landscape, which generations of farmers have considered sacred, “an understanding which is only known to those that visit,” note the designers.
The chapel itself is united to this sacred landscape, which honors the generations of families that have farmed this Iowa land. The landscape gives the chapel its frame, supporting it as a destination across farm fields, a place of quiet respite.