Art becomes Architecture

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The design odyssey took almost seven years and a number of architects to help this project to its final fruition. But brining it all together was an inspiring design process that took each project group member from scepticism and inherently subjective views on shapes, methods and materials to a new understanding of the task and meaning of a sacred space. The genius loci of the place asked for a modest but self-confident architecture, expressed by the vernacular choice of external finishing materials and shapes. The interior unfolds as a space that reveals the uniqueness of the situation and carries the visitor into a mood of quiet appreciation.

Entering the chapel is a threshold experience. For the individual it is a pilgrimage towards the altar, for the congregation it is an embracing gathering space. The one is emphasised by the rising ridge and strong rhythm of the intersections the other is expressed in the open gesture of the footprint and the embracing curve inscribed by the twelve exposed rafters. The communion step marks the transition into the apse with its distinctly upright proportions. The curved and gently tilted east wall encompasses the altar yet seems permeable into a realm beyond.

There is an element of playfulness in the serenity of the space, a subtle asymmetry and gentle variation in the left and right experience. Simple yet beautifully crafted details prepare the grounds for the vibrant interplay of colour and light. The space is captivating but not talkative, small but generous in its gesture. As Joan Allen de Ris, senior member of Camphill Architects pointed out: 99 years ago a first attempt was made by the movement to create an “all encompassing work of art” (Gesamtkunstwerk). Something of this has also been achieved in this church, largely through the outstanding artistic gifts of Laura Summer.

The final design was worked up in collaboration of artist Laura Summer and architect Lothar-M. Haasis and then handed over to a project team for technical design and construction.