Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bruder Klaus Field Chapel - Peter Zumthor

2010 11 03  L

Will it make sense to you for a chapel to look like this from outside?

Photo from Domus

Like this inside?

Photo from Domus

and having a plan like this?

Photo from Domus

with a section like this?

I wonder for a long while, with a part of me awe at its magnificent play of contrast of light and darkness, the intimidating yet inviting winding and confined route it created, and its almost deceiving sense of one lying under the sky scrapping trees, gazing at stars from around, the scratch of sky far atop; and another part of me just wondering of Mr. Peter Zumthor design intention in the making of such space.

The 112 trees taken from clients forest were positioned in cone shape, leaving an oculus at the top.  The concrete wall punctured with 250 holes by the shuttering ties was filled with blown-glass plugs.  Concrete was layered on to the tree trunks poured to 12meter height in 24days, compacting by hands forming the visible layers from outside.  All done by the commissioner, who had this little chapel build at a corner of his field, in Mechernich, Germany. 

The chapel literally was fired from within, burning the 112 trees into charcoal, almost as if creating a clay sculpture from kiln.  Leaving the dark stained concrete surface with the traces of form work. 

Maybe the process of building it by itself is a meditation of its own..........with a good reminder of how churches used to be build by those who worship them with heart and soul. 

Though I would think of so many ways of interpreting it to link it with the life of Bruder Klaus, the one that spend most part of his life in a ravine, under the forest of trees, gazing at the scrap of sky from way below, almost buried within rock. 

But as Mr. Peter Zumthor would smiled and answered as quote in:-

"Zumthor smiles. Of course it happens that an author writes, paints or builds things that he doesn’t know about, hasn’t seen or heard of, but that are still worth one, three or ten different interpretations. But not because he spent days and weeks studying symbols and symbolism. It makes it better, more interesting, unless you’re not prepared to believe in premonitions, visions, and the poet as a prophet. The only vision that Zumthor believes in is that of architecture. The only language his buildings speak is that of their construction and materials."



  1. Amazing! in terms of its construction and the used of materials!

  2. Wondering, what if it is raining or snowing?

  3. It is more of a personal medidation chapel, so the rain nor snow is affecting its function much, but, when it rain, the sketched area in the center of the "teepee" , is a bowl like dent collecting water and drain them out to the perimeter through the drench on floor radiating out. (according to some reading I have done)I think that is beauty in itself in such a small, secluded and personal spiritual space.