The Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, completed in 2007 is located on an agricultural landscape in the rural town of Eifel, Germany. The field chapel is dedicated to Swiss Saint Nicholas von der Flue (1417-1487), known as Brother Klaus. Do you know what makes this chapel different from others?
Yes, the chapel is different in structure, design, materials used and theme. Original design was done by local farmers who wanted to honor their patron saint, Bruder Klaus of the fifteenth century. Pritzker Prize winning architect Peter Zumthor ensured the Chapel to be a place for individual experiences and reflection.
The visitor is greeted by a small triangular opening which gives enough hints to the teepee-like structure that is to be revealed within. The visitor is then led horizontally into the space which widens and twists to reveal a ‘tear-dropped shaped room’. As the visitor moves ahead this horizontal axis is slowly shifted to the vertical as the ‘projecting ribs’ of the interior form.
The obvious directionality of wall leads the eye upward to the point where the roof is open to the sky and night stars. This aperture controls the indoor climate in the chapel. Both sunlight and air and rain penetrate the opening and create a very specific environment or experience based on time of day and season.
Small holes, 350 in number, located in the concrete walls allow daylight to enter the interior of the structure. These boreholes with steel pipes and used to pass the elements that held the inner formwork abroad before being burned, were later covered with small hemispheres of blown glass that give a particular flavor to the point where light enters and were essential due to air currents that originated inside the chapel.
Constructed on a concrete slab, a framework of logs – harvested from 112 local trees – were assembled in a teepee-shaped structure with a teardrop opening at the pinnacle which will act as the oculus for the completed form. Once finished formwork, concrete layers were tamped over the existing surface, each with about 50 cm thick and with 24 days of daily poured layer. When 24 layers of concrete were poured and dried, the wooden structure was burned, the slow burn lasted 3 weeks, leaving behind a hollow cavity blackened, with a negative walls charred in which there were few traces of logs original.
And finally, there is no plumbing, bathrooms, running water, no electricity, just a triangular metal gate at the entrance and the pavement obtained by recycling and smelting 4tn cans!