A place of quiet reflection
For some, it is an architectural treasure in the Zillertal mountains, for others it is a place of quiet reflection. Families appreciate the impressive building as a popular excursion destination, combined with a leisurely circular hike and a refreshment on the bank of the reservoir.
The Capella Granata was designed by the Swiss star architect Mario Botta and completed in the autumn of 2013. Its shape is similar to a mineral, that is particularly common in Zillertal: the garnet. The chapel is clad with local larch wood inside. Special light effects are created by the dome and two windows in the shape of a cross in the facade. Zillertal garnet inlays can also be found in the walnut altar that was designed by the artist Markus Thurner from Maurach am Achensee. The chapel is dedicated to the blessed Engelbert Kolland.
You can reach the Capella Granata by the Finkenberger Almbahnen. It‘s just a tenminute walk up to the chapel from the Penkenjoch top station. However, there is also a pleasant mountain bike ride that leads right past the chapel!
An interview with star architect Mario Botta
Why did you choose steel and wood as the building materials?
The idea was to base the shape on that of the natural garnet and to make it the theme of this chapel. This was realised using the materials steel and wood. The strict mathematically reproducible geometry of this structure is supposed to represent the strict contrast between the rationality of people and free organic nature. Such a pure shape, this kind of gemstone at the top of a mountain, is also an opportunity to illustrate the connection between heaven and earth. The structure is connected to the earth‘s crust by gravity but it is surrounded by the endlessness of the universe and the beautiful nature of the Zillertal.
Was it something extraordinary for you to build at this altitude and in this setting?
Seen purely technically it was all about building this geometrical structure out of twelve equal-sized panels at this altitude. However, we were also thinking about a light wood construction inside as a contrast to the hard Corten steel which is harsh and wind and rain repellent. A soft core with a hard shell you might say. Like a nut. It was about playing with these two emotions. Seemingly impenetrable from the outside. But once you are inside you discover a sweet, soft fruit.
What else could you imagine building in Zillertal?
I really like the valley as the elements of nature, the mountains, are very present. And these mountains actually already form a space, a building, built by nature. I find an incredible strength here. I really value that. I don‘t have any specific ideas for a building as the architect does not choose the theme. The architect is an instrument of society and does what society desires. It may be a chapel or a hotel. However, it was a really wonderful experience and a challenge to work here.
Source: Zillertal Magazin, Summer 2014