Contemporary place of worship by Austrian practice replaces 17th century church
Coop Himmelb(l)au have just released these stunning images of a small church in the modest Austrian town of Hainburg. With construction completed in less than a year, the project has moved incredibly swiftly, progressing from design to realisation in only three years.
The number three plays a continuous part in this glossy religious scheme, a feature that the design studio refers to as ‘deliberate coincidence’. Taking three years to complete, the interior volumes are starkly lit by natural daylight which filters in through three large openings in the roof, correlating with the concept of The Trinity in Christian theology.
Interior spaces can also be divided into three sections: a sanctuary; the church hall; and supporting facilities. An open yet peaceful sanctuary leads through to a glass-covered children’s corner and baptistery, beyond which is situated the communal church hall. A set of folding doors separates the two areas however this can be drawn back to merge the volumes creating a continuous spatial sequence.
A similar approach has been used on the facade, which can be concertinaed back to open the internal space to the outside. At right angles to this is a longitudinal slab building along a small side alley, supporting the sacristy, the pastor’s office, a small kitchen and additional ancillary spaces.
Rising above this metallic complex is a sculptural bell tower. Weighing a hefty 8 tonnes, the musical pillar soars to 20m in height and makes the church highly recognisable from a great distance. In assembling the building Coop Himmelb(l)au ultilised the appropriate technologies and skills of a shipyard on the Baltic Sea, explaining: “The reference to shipbuilding is at the same time also reminiscent of Le Corbusier who served as an important role model, not least because of his La Tourette monastery.“
Layers of steel have been built up over suspended frames before being welded together onsite, and range between 8mm and 16mm in thickness throughout. The bell tower is a vertical self-supporting steel structure whereas the roof construction of the remainder of the building rests on four steel columns (compared by the architects to the ‘legs of a table’).