IAT | Bruder Klaus Field Chapel | Peter Zumthor

The concrete mass of Bruder Klaus can be characterized as the building of a mound, referring back to primitive construction methods.1 After finishing the formwork, the concrete was laid in twenty-four layers or lifts, each a separate pour. One lift was poured each day for twenty-four straight days, each with an approximate height of 50 centimeters [19.7 inches]. The team doing the concrete work was composed of friends and family of the client working under the leadership of several skilled craftsmen.

The technique used for this concrete work is called rammed concrete and is similar to the process used to create rammed earth structures. It results in a final product that reveals its layered nature. The striations in the concrete reflect the earth’s composition and highlight the process of construction – the individual pours made by the building team. The resulting texture is not only critical to the overall quality of the project, but a distinct departure from the texture left on the inside of the space by the log formwork.


This is an excerpt from Chapter 19 of Introducing Architectural Tectonics.

Drawing: © Chad Schwartz

1 Jerneja Acanski Veber, “Sveto V Architekturi = the Sacred in Architecture,” Piranesi 20, no. 31 (2012): 40.