It’s the very first motorway church in Switzerland. A place of quiet contemplation for local inhabitants and drivers along the A13, which runs from north to south through the canton of Ticino in the Grisons. No prizes for guessing that as soon as building is complete, it will also become a magnet for architecture buffs. The Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron, from the village of Andeer, where the chapel is being built, envisioned a sculptural volume that would be visible from far off, deliberately white, a hallmark of many of their projects. The Grisons are dotted with chapels, in woods and fields, many of them extremely old and perfectly integrated into the beautiful Alpine landscape. It was exactly this perfect symbiosis between the built environment and nature and the sense of spirituality it emanates that led the architects to “invent” a contemporary motorway chapel. There is no sense in which this chapel seeks to compete with the ancient ones, especially outstanding because of the aura conjured up by the frescoed walls.
The project was not fully defined initially, but took shape over the course of a number of meetings with the local community and the pastor of Andeer. It does not reference any particular building, church or place of prayer, but was informed by a desire, almost a necessity, that emerged from their perception of the place and the road. There was already a bridge between the village and the surrounding countryside, which helped decide the choice of building location.