AD Classics: Saint Benedict Chapel / Peter Zumthor

© Felipe Camus

The Saint Benedict Chapel, located in the village of , Graubünden, was designed by the Pritzker Prize Laureate in 1988. The modest, human-scaled exterior of the chapel encapsulates the beauty and simplicity of Zumthor’s works, while the interior showcases his unparalleled craftsmanship.

The chapel was constructed in the small village of Sumvitg following a 1984 avalanche that destroyed the baroque-style chapel of the village. The hillside site for the new chapel, which provides breathtaking mountainous views, is protected from future avalanches by a surrounding forest.

© Felipe Camus

In an interview with The New York Times, Zumthor once explained his process: “When I start, my first idea for a building is with the material. I believe architecture is about that. It’s not about paper, it’s not about forms. It’s about space and material.” [1]

© Felipe Camus

Although Zumthor used modern materials and techniques for this particular design, the cylindar-shaped chapel blends naturally into its context, without offending the traditional and historical dimension of the Alpine village. For example, the chapel is constructed with wooden shingles and snips, similar to the local traditional houses.

© Felipe Camus

The roof of the chapel is reminiscent of the hull of a boat. Mediating between the expressive roof and the more traditional, wooden base below, is an elegant, minimal solution: a ring of vertical wood columns and glass panels that crown the chapel, allowing natural light to penetrate the interior space.

© Felipe Camus

The single interior space contains minimalist wooden columns, beams and benches, showcasing Zumthor’s craftsmanship and his delicate approach to material and details. 

© Felipe Camus

 [1] Pogrebin, Robin: Pritzker Prize goes to Peter Zumthor. Published in the New York Times on April 12th, 2009

ArchDaily wishes to thank our friend Felipe Camus for sharing his photos with us.

Architects: Peter Zumthor
Location: Sumvitg, Switzerland
Collaborator: Annalisa Zumthor-Cuorad
Year: 1988
Photographs: Felipe Camus

Cite: Merin, Gili. "AD Classics: Saint Benedict Chapel / Peter Zumthor" 25 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=418996>

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