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Kapelle Niedere © Ian Ehm / friendship.is

Niedere Andelsbuch Mountain Chapel

Niedere Andelsbuch Mountain Chapel

It takes ten minutes by cable car and fifteen on foot to reach this wooden chapel. At an altitude of 1600 meters, it sits near a small forest, just before a steeply sloping ridge that offers far-reaching panoramic views.

Lonesome and yet at times right in the thick of all the action (when paragliders gather at the meadow), this small chapel is visible from the mountain station, the valley below and also the nearby mountain pasture of its owners.

After losing their first baby, Irene and Leo Feuerstein pledged to build a chapel if they gave birth to a healthy child. Years passed but they eventually kept their promise once their daughter had reached the age of twenty. The prize money for the architectural competition proposed by the friendly municipal secretary and his wife was three wheels of cheese from the in-house Alpine dairy, which Andreas Cukrowicz, Anton Nachbaur-Sturm and their employees were able to share.

The wooden chapel sits on a base of stones gathered from the surrounding Alpine environment. With the help of family friends and many involved in the planning, the chapel was built as a vertical log construction by hand and without a crane. As one might expect, the up to 150-year-old spruce trees were sourced from the couple’s own forest! The outer wall, roof and floor are made up of the same 10 by 20 cm beams with a finished surface on both sides. According to the architects, “There are no panels: everything is visible both outside and inside.” The altar wall, which is detached from the roof and longitudinal walls by a glass slit as wide as two wooden elements, is flush with the wall inside and out.

Two traditions meet in this small “hermitage” dedicated to St. Theodul: the sophistication of Vorarlberg timber architecture and the introspective nature of Byzantine sacred buildings. There is a Greek cross above the altar and a small, round sound opening for the bell above the entrance.

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