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Triangular shell for Austrian chapel

Photography: David Schreyer, Ruper Asanger

Austria-based X Architekten has designed the Oasis Pastoral Care Vostalpine, which was to visualize a chapel for spiritual, liturgical and social events for active and retired personnel.

The office for pastoral care in the Diocese of Linz was created for liturgical and secular purposes and located on the site of the steel manufacturer Voestalpine. Built decades ago, and later demolished, it lies between the borders formed by the Westbahn and Ebelsberger bypass, and Voestalpine’s industrial estate. This creates an island with a four-meter-thick slag stone deposit formed during the age of industrialization – creating a no man’s land.

Conventionally-designed church buildings (with a basilica or tower) would not be feasible as the site was dominated by high buildings with incomparably large dimensions. In this case, the existing woodlands create an oasis. The church itself was developed by cutting into the hillside, also protecting it from environmental exposure.

Spread over 4843 sq. m., the building’s main artery cuts into the hillside, widens as it approaches the green spaces and leads up to the woods along the sloping surface. The embankment is made of dark slag stone, which is either poured into the embankment or processed as pebble dash.

The development then divides into functional spaces such as offices, meeting rooms and workshops and a cloakroom, event room and the chapel. The recessed bell court radiates a contemplative mood with a bell placed at ground level and a hollow space to distribute the sound.

A white, wood-coated shell divided into triangles unites the chapel, event room and bar. Two sliding walls connect or separate the space for different events. The crystalline geometry symbolizes Saint Barbara as the patron saint of pastoral care and mining.