Pure, spiritual, and minimal family chapel by Gerhard Sacher
Chapels are probably the most private and intimate of spiritual spaces, providing opportunity for tranquil contemplation and withdrawal from society. As a result, they are usually small, dimly lit, enclosed little structures that ban the outside world from entering. However, when placed away from civilisation, it is exactly opening up towards nature that ensures the perfect circumstances for religious mediation. Exactly this is the case with family-owned chapel Maria Magdalena. Tucked away in the Carinthian mountains and set midst of a young vineyard in Zollfeld, the natural surroundings already imply a godly presence. The proximity of Hochosterwitz castle and the pilgrimage church of Magdalensberg further emphasise the spirituality of the setting.
Given such location, it seems that Sacher.Locicero.Architectes did not have a tremendous task to create something remarkably holy. And leading architect Gerhard Sacher indeed kept things minimal. The classical, almost archaic shape of the building, the basic interior, and the materials used only enhance the holy quality of the surroundings. The chapel is built from smooth, white concrete, which not only suggests purity but makes the building stand out from the harsh green of the hills. The texture and hue of the material changes in accordance with weather conditions, revealing an ever-changing but always radiant appearance. The other characteristic element of the form is the extreme steepness of the gables, which makes the chapel point towards the sky.
The interior is left just as pure as the outside: fold-out banks made of whitewashed oak mean the sole furniture, everything else is kept simple. A huge bronze cross and a two-wing bronze gate (both made by a Czech artist), and coloured vitrification openings (created by a local master) form the decoration. Unlike town chapels, Maria Magdalena is open wide to the countryside, uniting the two spaces and letting the prayer getting absorbed in nature.
Photos: Paul Ott Gerhard Sacher
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