Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Great Detail: Meredith Bowles on Peter Zumthor’s Sumvitg chapel entrance

Aj great detail crop2
  • 1 Comment

The next in a series looking at the building details that have impressed and inspired our readers. Today: Meredith Bowles from Mole Architects

Architect Peter Zumthor
Building Entrance to Saint Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg, Switzerland (1988)

Meredith boles detail index

Meredith boles detail index

Source: Peter Zumthor 1985-1989, Buildings and Projects Volume 1, Sheidegger & Spiess

Detail of Peter Zumthor’s St Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg

 

Zumthor sumvitg chapel

Zumthor sumvitg chapel

The entrance to Peter Zumthor’s chapel at Sumvitg

This is a detail I think about every time I return home to the Black House, whose entrance was designed after visiting this building.

The chapel at Sumvitg is exquisite, and rich in meaning for such an apparently simple building. It’s tiny; a village chapel. It has the familiar feeling of many simple parish chapels, with a single space, benches facing an altar table, but every detail is designed to make the experience of the chapel richer and more meaningful.

Mole black house

Mole black house

The Black House by Mole Architects

The entry is beautifully thought through; a cast block of concrete is anchored to the ground, and sits beside the wooden chapel. It has five steps and a platform, and the visitor is guided by the finest of steel rails. The fragility of these is noted as we ascend. The door is extended from the body of the church, the thin copper roof extending to form the drip. The smooth timber cheeks of the doorway contrast with the rough shingle skin, and taper to a fine edge. Within this opening a finely slatted door contrasts with a steel handle that looks to be forged rather than cast, conveying a sense of centuries of entry to this place of worship; the building replaces a previous chapel destroyed by an avalanche.

The moment of entry is completed as we step off the concrete, on to the wooden platform, while grasping the handle and swinging open the door. We are leaving terra firma and entering the ark.

Meredith Bowles is founder of Mole Architects. Meredith recently spoke at the launch of the 2017 AJ Small Projects Awards, which are open for entry

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.