Forest Chapel: Saint Imre Hill, Pannonhalma, Hungary
Deep in the forest of the town of Pannonhalma, home of a more than 1,000 years old Benedictine Monastery, lies Saint Imre Hill. In the course of one week, in August 2018, three dozen university students built a non-denominational chapel on a clearing close to the peak. The project was initiated by the students as a reflection of a course on Contemporary Sacred Art at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, in Budapest, earlier this year.
The students intended to create a non-denominational sacred structure, which, in parallel to James Turrel’s sky-space structures, opens upwards and adjusts delicately to the environment. The Forest Chapel in Pannonhalma consists of two objects:
a bent wooden ellipse of 7 layers resting on 12 hardly recognisable metal stands, liberally enclasping the entire clearing, marking the sacred space and separating it from the rest of the forest, but still making the space accessible — at the top end of the structure, it serves as a bench, at the bottom end one can walk underneath
a cylinder-shaped, low concrete altar, an altar of gratitude — with a concave depression on top of it, covered by blue–golden mosaic, recalling motives seen in Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum in Ravenna and combining it with motives referring to Saint Imre.
The entirely handmade structure was delivered shortly before sunset on Sunday, August 26, 2018. According to its creators it is open to anyone at any time, for praying, contemplation, meditation, community occasions or simply as a rest after or during a hike. One thing in which the team superseded their plans, is the act of creating and forging a community — as this group of designers, constructors and creators now operates as an inevitably real acting and caring community.