| 18 : 00 – 11 April 2018 |
The stunning conversion of an 1950’s building into a church – St. Joseph located in scenic woods of Collalbo in Italy expresses divine closeness to heaven.
Located along the Sigmund Freud path, the church ‘in the woods’ redesigned by Messner Architects adopted many of the traditional aspects of church design and existing features for modern volumes. Renovated and retrofitted by David and Verena Messner the church’s entrance facade features stained-glass windows from famed artist Peter Fellin. Rectangular openings were created to bring in more sunlight and to connect the interiors with exteriors. Apart from these, the altar of the sacred place has monolithic rocks placed on translucent glass base and a quiet meditation area at the upper loft.
Balcony overlooking the exteriors
Rear side entrance
From the Architects –
The church in Stella is an appreciated spiritual place for people from far and wide, not least because it is located along the popular Sigmund Freud path in the alpine woods at 1300 m.a.s.l. The conversion and renovation of the building dating back to the fifties is aimed at re evaluating the existing structure and making it more attractive. The main focus of the modification is in achieving a friendly and inviting atmosphere and a well-defined architectural structure.
East facade of the church
Before renovation – Interior of Church
Light within St. Joseph church –
The east facade of the building was broken through to provide the church interior with more daylight. The huge rectangular opening behind the presbytery bathes the interior in light and underlines the pursuit of linking inside to outside, in a way spiritual to profane. The fleeting glimpse inside is claiming people’s attention and stimulating to enter the church.
Rectangular window on east facade
The prevailing ‘genius loci‘, the spirit of the place, is strikingly expressed with the phrase ‘church in the wood‘ . The framed view is characterized by a continuously changing landscape in the course of the seasons. The contemplation of nature gives the opening its highly meditative meaning.
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Ground floor –
Inside the church the previously existing height difference between presbytery and nave is reduced and replaced by a ramp with an incised canyon. The configuration as a ramp dissolves the separation of the space and creates the impression of a shaped landscape.
Ground floor plan and section
Presbytery and Nave areas
The dark incisions in the wooden ceiling reflect the joints in the flooring and takes up the idea of a landscape crossed by tracks and traces. A freestanding panel of translucent glass opposite to the front door works as a protective and informative shield.
Translucent glass as information board and shield
The stained-glass windows originate with the artist Peter Fellin. The figurative arched windows with the pictures of Saint Stephen and Saint Notburga were moved from the east facade to the west facade where they brighten the entrance. Since renovation the abstract and precious stained-glass windows receive more attention and appreciation.
Beautiful stain glass windows
Presbytery in St. Joseph church –
The reconfiguration of the prebytery originates with the recently passed away artist Franz Messner and was completed by his children David and Verena.
The altar is located on the central axis of the presbytery, while the ambo and the priest’s chair are situated sideways in front of the main liturgical object. Solid monoliths of a local variety of gneiss rock rest on the translucent glass bases.
The light breaks through the fragile bases and makes the heavy masses hover above the ground. The design of the wooden benches takes up the lightness of the presbytery. The weightlessness of the design strongly expresses the aspiration for the divine and the closeness to heaven.
Registry office area
Staircase to loft space
View of the interior space at dawn
Project details –
Project Name – St. Joseph in the Woods
Architect Firm – Messner Architects | www.messnerarchitects.com
Design team – David & Verena Messner
Location – Lichtenstern, 29054 Collalbo (BZ), Italy
Client name – Haus der Familie
Project type – Religious architecture, Church
Completion Year – 2017
Built Up Area – 250 sq.m.
Photography Credits – © Davide Perbellini
Products – Monza chair by Plank