Herzog & de Meuron

ANDEER, SWITZERLAND, 19 February 2020 – Today, 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”.



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