Located in a remote field in Wachendorf, Germany, the Brother Klaus Field Chapel (Bruder Klaus Kapelle in the original German) stands like an extraterrestrial monolith sent to Earth on a mission of brutalist modern spirituality, yet it was created using some surprisingly primal techniques.
Designed by renowned Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, the tall, pentagonal chapel was created between 2005-2007 using techniques and inspiration gleaned from local farmers. Originally the structure was created by leaning 112 tree trunks together like a teepee. This was then used as the form for the rest of the chapel as concrete was poured around the outside, creating a a flat, angular exterior. Once this was complete the tree trunks, still exposed on the interior, were set ablaze leaving the walls burnt and strangely patterned with the impressions of the wood that was turned to ash. As grandly uninviting finishing touches, the floor was formed from a solid block of poured molten lead and a sharp triangular door was installed over the entrance.
With no infrastructure such as electricity, the simple concrete chapel gets all of its light from the hole in the top where the tree trunks once met and through countless stainless steel pipes that are set into the walls allowing illumination to fill the space through glass balls set into the holes.
Lest anyone forget that the bizarre building is a chapel, it has been dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Flüe, otherwise known as “Brother Klaus,” and a simple cross shape is etched above the door. Visitors who want to make a pilgrimage to the chapel are welcome during operating hours to come worship as they would like, although they shouldn’t be surprised if it is an alien god that answers their prayers.
Know Before You Go
The Chapel is accessible only on foot after a walk of 10 to 15 minutes on a slightly rising path (1,3 km). There is a signposted car park on the outskirts of the village of Wachendorf on ‘Iversheimer Straße’ on the road to Lessenich. (The address is Iversheimer Straße, 53894 Mechernich-Wachendorf). For people with reduced mobility there is a parking space closer to the chapel on ‘Rißdorfer Weg’. The nearest railway stations are Satzvey (3.7 km away), Mechernich (10 km) and Euskirchen (11.3 km). Taxi stops are located in Mechernich and Euskirchen.