On 19 February, the design for Switzerland’s first motorway chapel - the Autobahnkirche - was unveiled to the public. The idea of the Autobahnkirche follows on from the concept of the medieval wayside chapel and is adapted to modern needs. These churches offer travellers a place of rest, silence and prayer. The concept is already established in the neighbouring countries: in Germany alone, there are 46 Autobahnkirchen.
Our proposal for the Autobahnkirche is situated on the A13 motorway near Andeer, a small village in the Grisons region. The Autobahnkirche consists of an above-ground chapel, visible from afar, which is composed of four walls of equal height and at right angles, that just lean against each other; they lean and support at the same time. From this aboveground chapel, a broad, snail-shaped flight of stairs leads to an earth room that is conceived as a sequence of three chapels.
Along the funnel-shaped earth space, visitors find two other small chapels: the first for readers, with even daylight coming into the round room from above and the second with a candle, a matte, reflecting wall, and a single skylight. Finally, a last room opens a panoramic view of the landscape, the village, and the lush green meadows and woods. Perception of the vegetation is heightened by the complementary red of a room-height pane of tinted glass.
Jacques Herzog: "The project is unusual for us because neither the spatial program nor the location were clearly defined. The idea for the chapel in Andeer had to emerge from the site alone, from the location, from the road. We were looking for architecture that would sharpen the perception of visitors - of the location, the natural environs, and even of the way they see themselves".
"We wanted to create space but not a closed architectural volume. It should be more like a path coming from outside, passing through a sequence of specific rooms, and then leading directly outdoors again. But we did not really perceive this as a path until we laid it through the earth, like a passage through an organism or cave. We realized that we now had the potential of not just one but many analogies and associations, which is what we had wanted to achieve from the very start."
Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Andreas Fries (Partner in Charge)
Project team: Martin Knüsel (Associate, Project Director), Daniel Wilson (Project Manager), Monica Gaspar Bonilla, Jonas Läufer, Anna Ludwig
IG Autobahnkirche A13
Cost Consulting: Christen Baukosten- und Projektmanagement, Basel, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: Conzett Bronzini Partner AG, Chur, Switzerland
Specialist / Consulting:
Traffic Consulting: Casutt Wyrsch Zwicky AG, Falera, Switzerland
Visualizations: Aron Lorincz Ateliers, Gödöllő, Hungary
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 280 sqm
GFA above ground: 130 sqm
GFA below ground: 150 sqm
Number of Levels: 2
Height: 10 m