The Votive Chapel of the Wroclaw Belt Highway
The main part of the Wroclaw Belt Highway, consisting of the highway itself and the spectacu¬lar Rędziński Bridge, was open in 2011. To commem¬orate the opening of the highway, the then mayor of Wroclaw suggested construction of a chapel. The chapel resulted from the need for a gesture that is quite rare today – a votive offering for the construction of Wrocław Motorway Bypass (AOW). For this task, we decided to transpose the traditional sacred model into contemporary forms and meanings. The sacred sphere, historically enclosed by the outline of the volume of the cult object, in this case has been delimited symbolically. Due to the continuous interaction with AOW, we decided to establish arbitrary boundaries in space. The chapel consists of a concrete foundation, wall elements made of sound¬proofing barriers. The EPCH 420 energy-consuming traffic barriers create five offset rings, virtually cut out space and make it “safe” in the semantic layer. In order not to interrupt the circumference of the rings, we decided to lift them slightly so that it is possible to enter inside while creating a moment of climax of the form highlighted by a religious symbol. The geometry of the polygons and the supports elements determines the centre of gravity, which was used as a point of reference for a bench for contemplation. In this way, a simple interaction was created between the user and the busy motorway, filtered through religious symbolism.
The vast majority of the elements used to build the chapel comes from recycling and dismantling. The bent barriers still bear traces of traffic accidents; maybe one of them even saved somebody’s life. The concrete and asphalt used for the base surface lay abandoned after the construction of the motorway, overgrowing with weeds. At a time of public discussion about excess and ubiquitous kitsch, we managed to convince church representatives to the modern form and “thinking with recycling.” This is an extremely important experience for us. Representatives of the Church yielded and agreed to "recycling think¬ing” and a contemporary form.
The structure is completely open and accessible to everyone. Located by an emerging recreational trail, it can give brief respite for people not seeking contact with religion. Abandoned amongst ceaseless traffic, to be surrounded by a flowery meadow that is currently being designed, the chapel intrigues due to its geometry and may contribute to breaking patterns and leaving the ruts of formal correctness in the design of sacred objects.
Maćków Pracownia Projektowa was set up in 1995. This Wrocław-based architectural studio specialises in designing residential and public utility buildings as well as industrial facilities. It has designed and carried out investment projects in Poland and abroad.