This is a sketch of the church of Christus Hoffnung der Welt (Christ the Hope of the World) by Heinz Tesar in Donau City, Vienna, Austria. I sketched this while on my EuroTrip on May 30th, 2005. From the exterior, this “black box” building appears dense, heavy, guarded, untouchable, with “little circles” on it. Walk inside, and it’s an entirely different story. It is light, warm, breath-taking, grounded, calming, open, and thoughtful. The walls, ceilings and furniture is done in a light birch wood. The “little circles” and cubes of glass projecting into the space let light in, creating this airy world. Personally, I love architecture “tricks” and techniques like these. You would never guess the interior from the interior…”never judge a book by its cover…” not that the cover of this wonderful book is unappealing, by no means…it simply tells a different story.
In certain lights, its dark chromium (stainless) steel seems to make the building an almost black cuboid. But with even a little bit of sunshine, it changes as you walk round from deep purple to shimmering silver. A repetitive grid of bolts made of ordinary stainless steel shows how the dark steel plates are fixed, pays homage to Wagner’s famous aluminum bolt heads at the Postsparkasse in the proper city over the river, and sets up a small-scale detailed pattern that mediates between that of the plates and the circular piercings that bring daylight to the interior. The skin is taut and smooth. Each corner of the square plan is eroded into a reverse angle, intended to make the block less formidable from outside, and permitting more light to enter. Inside, the atmosphere is almost totally different from the severe external presence. Pale birch panelling on walls and ceiling is echoed in the pews, giving the whole place a gentle, luminous warmth, which changes in intensity and emphasis with the weather and time of day. The portholes, large and small, might be expected to generate glare, but rarely do because they are so numerous and have deep reveals, funneled and sometimes inclined, so surrounding each circular source of light with diffused luminance. Behind the almost black syenite altar, rough-hewn in contrast to the smooth birch, is a gently emphasized circle in the paneling, pierced in only one place, at the crux of the quietly incised cross to mark the axis from congregation to altar to priest to the emblem of Christ.
In the Wilderness: A Very Small Building Brings a Sense of Place, Humanity and Gentleness to the Harsh and Absurd Urban Landscapes of Vienna’s Business Satellite by Peter Davey
Thought for the day:
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.