The Part and the Whole

Instead of compulsively urging for completion in the shortest time possible, proceed steadily and patiently towards finalisation.

Photo credits: Paul Ott

Photo credits: Paul Ott

Mariazell on a clear autumn day. The mixed forests of the surrounding mountains are just about to take off their transitory gowns. Two nuns, leaning on Nordic walking poles, cross the area between the pale pink basilica and the adjacent clerical house. Leaf blowers send up deciduous clouds in front of them. A pilgrim entering through the north gate attaches his mountain bike to one of the bicycle hangers.

What appears self-evident in the casual everyday use of the place and only enters the consciousness of individuals for a fleeting moment often goes a long way. Especially when it comes to the transformation of a historically-charged place for collective rituals, such as a pilgrimage centre. In the case of the Mariazell fitting elements by Wolfgang Feyferlik and Susanne Fritzer, there even lies a quarter century of continuous construction between the first talks and the last steps. From today’s high speed perspective, this generous time frame looks astronomical even for a construction contract. It is difficult to grasp the extent of the interventions, which were created between 1992 and 2017 under the care of Friar Karl Schauer. These enter into a dialogue with the existing structure and can be found throughout the place, although they still preserve their independence. Feyferlik and Fritzer gradually redeveloped and ventilated the space of the Catholic stronghold with great sensitivity and meticulousness. In the process, they deviated from worn-out approaches, opened up new perspectives for pilgrims and the clergy, again connected what had been separated over time, and created a unique spatial continuum along the way. With special care for details, the sense of the whole never vanishes and individual elements appear like a single, large-scale synthesis output, which appeals to all the senses.

Photo credits: Paul Ott

Photo credits: Paul Ott

The complete article is published in Autumn 2019 issue of Piranesi No. 41 Vol. 27.

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Project Data

Architecture: Feyferlik/Fritzer: Wolfgang Feyferlik & Susanne Fritzer
Project Manager: Wolfgang Feyferlik, Anton Nolz (Project Coordination)
Client: Benediktinerstift St. Lambrecht, Österreich/Benedictine Abbey St. Lambrecht, Austria
(Superiorat of the Basilica Mariazell, Pater Karl Schauer OSB)
Structural ConsultantHerbert: Majcenovic, Siegfried Hiebl, Johann Birner
Floor Areaca. 8.000 m²
Start of Planning: 1992
Start of Construction: 1993
Completition: 2018