German Ecker Architects hosted a studio of 12 Design-Build students from the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago this summer. With the kind support of craftsmen, volunteer workers and townspeople of the Odenwald/Bauland, a rural region in central Germany, the students realised this chapel for a local ecumenical church co-operative. It was completetd within eight weeks. For some of the students this projects it was the first experience in practical construction.
Dea Ecker and her old friend Professor Flury from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago had the idea for this collaboration after the local Reverend Moser-Feesche contacted Ecker Architekten with the intent to build a chapel – even though he had no funding, held no property, and did not have the support of his congregation.
“In January 2009 Professor Flury introduced the project to the Design-Build curriculum and received an enthusiastic response. Over the next 3 months, 12 students developed three design alternatives. In March 2009, these projects were personally presented to the governing municipality of Buchen and the citizens of Boedigheim. After a lengthy discussions two projects were chosen for further development, with Prof. Flury ultimately responsible for the feasibility of a final proposal. Armed with a donation of lumber from the city of Buchen, the “Professor from Chicago” and the “Reverend with an idea” asked for the trust and help of the townspeople to realize the project. With commitments from the local blacksmith, carpenter, sawmill owner, and the farmer (whose field the chapel was to be built upon), the town of Boedigheim agreed to implement the project.”
“The student group arrived in Germany during the first week of June. Despite an unusually rainy summer, the project progressed smoothly. With the help of countless volunteers, the chapel was constructed in just 8 weeks. Over 400 people witnessed the official benediction on 25 July, 2009.
From the onset of the project development, assembly details were designed to ensure the chapel could be completed by students without construction skills.
The entire wooden structure was cut on a CNC machine according to the student’s drawings. The receiving slots in the four main columns of the tower for the louvers were subsequently hand routed. Not a single plank was sawn on site. The students developed the drawings in various CAD programs and produced the individual components with hand tools and computer-assisted machinery.
The chapel design was based upon utilizing donated, renewable and local materials.”