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Open Air Altar

Brezje, Slovenia
1 of 4

The pilgrimage church of St. Vid was built in the late 19th century. The square in front of the church is an essential part of the church complex, as this is where the public gathers on religious holidays for Mass and other open-air Catholic ceremonies. During the 20th century, several plans were developed for the square. One of those that was actually executed was the fine stone wall around the perimeter of the square, designed by Joze Plecnik in the 1930s.

Marusa Zorec and her collaborator Martina Tepina decided to use this wall as a 'supporting' element for the new structures. Public toilets and other services were placed just behind the wall and thus elegantly screened from sight. And the altar, which for decades had stood right in front of the church facade, was also aligned with the wall; in fact it was inserted into it. This particular design decision has an impact on the entire complex. The altar itself is constructed of steel and concrete but its interior is entirely dressed in birch wood. Light enters from above but its source is invisible; all one sees are the magical effects on the wooden surfaces. This and the simple box-like form give this space a particularly Finnish feel and act as an excellent backdrop for the richly ornamented religious objects that embellish the walls and altar table. The gilded neo-baroque angels are right at home here. The square design is equally basic: it was meant to be entirely paved in stone but when this proved to be too expensive it was paved in concrete slabs. Only the stairs leading to the altar and those leading to the square itself are made from local stone. After some time, the two materials may acquire the same colour, and the square will become what it was meant to be - one continuous, unified surface.

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bostjan, April 27th, 2017
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