Some students from the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Ecker Architekten, designed and executed the ecumenical church in Bödigheim, Germany. The project was led by professor Frank Flury and assisted on a pro bono basis by the firm of Ecker Architekten (Buchen, Germany) with the craftsmen, volunteer workers and townspeople of the Odenwald/Bauland, a rural region in northern Baden-Württemberg.
The task of the design was to create a place of spirituality. Professor Flury defined the project for the twelve students who come from Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Tennessee and China, as “an interdenominational chapel, a space for people who are in a search for God – a place for quiet reflection, but also one that welcomes hikers and cyclists who appreciate a rest stop that has a sense of beauty. ”
The ecumenical chapel stands on a hill between the villages of Boedigheim, Seckach and Großeicholzheim.
The structure is visible from afar but can only reached by foot or by bicycle via a steep country lane. The students developed outdoor facilities and space as a logical consequence of interaction: when arriving at the site, a narrow footpath leads between an existing hedge and the blank tower facade to a small gravel forecourt, which is bounded on 2 sides with massive benches made of local limestone. This forecourt represents the secular realm. A brick platform rises from this forecourt, upon which visitors enter a closed patio and ultimately the sanctuary. This platform traverses the profane to the divine.
Surrounded by 4 closed walls, views are limited to the sky and the tower, which encloses the chapel sanctuary. “The courtyard and chapel are situated in a sea of faith,” according to the students. “The Secular and the Sacred touch each other, they are connected with one another.”
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