Freelab 2003 – 1/3 Scale, St. Benedict’s Chapel


Original by: Peter Zumthor

Student of the Dalhousie University School of Architecture:
[Omar Gandhi, Julian Carnrite, Brian Hanley, Kevin Reid, Amelia Hollinghurst, Jason Minard, Jerome Cormier] Photography by Omar Gandhi

Peter Zumthor’s St. Benedict Chapel uses innovative wood-frame construction to achieve a simple yet unusual form with a sublime interior. With traditional building materials, Zumthor introduces innovative details allowing the floor, wall, and roof to seemingly float independent of the structure. The result is not only effortless and inspiring but also seldom found in the vernacular of wood-frame construction. In addition, the building recognizes the importance of the continuity of tradition but not at the expense of innovation and variety. Those who have expressed an interest in this project are attracted to the hands-on application of wood-frame construction used to create unusual and innovative form.

It was our intention to interpret and simplify the building’s design, allowing for a 1:3 scale construction of the building. The project was sited near the Sexton gymnasium, adjacent to the cemetery. Emphasis was placed on the use of wood-frame construction and the main ideas behind the design. The finished construction was be 2.5m wide and 5m long.