Archetypal Shelter

architect Peter Zumthor
project Brother Klaus Field Chapel, Mechernich-Wachendorf, Rissdorferweg, Germany
written by Vera Grimmer


Perhaps it would be best to say nothing, in Wittgenstein’s sense of the word, about the incredible and wondrous experience of Zumthor’s latest work – the Brother Klaus Chapel. It would be much more appropriate to use a piece of chamber music or verse. However, due to the unusual and important history of its construction, these lines should be used to bring you closer to this cult building in the true sense of the words. When I asked him what his motivation was to build the chapel, Mr. Hermann-Josef Scheidtweiler replied: “Gratitude for a life complete.” The humbleness and simple beauty of this answer impresses and speaks of the properties of this remarkable, far from everyday, building. In his village of Wachendorf, located somewhere between Cologne and the Belgian border, Mr. Scheidtweiler was the head of the Catholic youth that picked as its patron saint Niklaus von Flüe (1417-1487), called Brother Klaus, peacemaker, mystic and eremite from the Swiss mountains.