BOUNDLESS SACRUM

TEXT: ELIZA ZIEMIŃSKA, PHOTOS: PAUL OTT, GERHARD SACHER

ZOLLFELD 17.6.2016

ARCHITECTURE ART TRAVEL

An alpine glade. A clear white structure with substantial glazing, situated in the middle of it, frames the green landscape.
This concrete building is a small family chapel located on the wine hills of Zollfeld in Austria. It was designed by Gerhard Sacher, who runs his studio, Sacher LoCicero Architectes, in Graz. The architect’s task was to create a space for contemplating family ceremonies and holidays.

The spatial form of the building incorporates the surrounding landscape into the temple. The cross cast in bronze, designed by Czech artist Jaromir Gargulak, was placed outside the chapel, breaking the convention of traditionally closed sacred spaces. Similarly, the huge chapel door opens as a whole wall surface, eliminating any boundaries between the inside and the outside. The statue of Mary Magdalene, the patron of the chapel, was put in one of the recesses in the wall. Other, smaller niches beside that one are intended for urns.

Narrow vertical slits in the side walls of the chapel are filled with colourful stained-glass windows. The edges of window recesses were installed at an angle letting the sunlight into the building both in the morning and in the evening. The windows show scenes from Genesis; they were made by local artist Karl-Heinz Simonitsch.

The glass surface enclosed by concrete walls is a frame – a symbolic window changing the perspective of viewing and perceiving the world. “This white sculpture cannot be passed by without impressing the guest. If you go through it, you will immerse in radiant white and discover the simple language of this form even if you’re the most staunched agnostic,” Sacher says.

The form of the chapel resembles the red Torii gates, which are an element of Japanese culture: they symbolize transition from the material world (which leads to death) to infinity. It’s enough to stop at the building for a while in order to see that the whole world is a temple.

Kapelle Kandussi      St. Veit 10. 2014