Pfarrkirche Oberwart

Osterkirche

Location

Oberwart, Austria

48.14763, 16.2534

Author

Günther Domenig, Eilfried Huth

Architects

Built in

1969

Today the Easter Church is one of the most outstanding examples of the architectural style known as Brutalism. With its reduced geometrical forms, associated and co-ordinated elements and its plain fair-faced concrete walls, the church conveys a clear, concise and yet expressive message.

The Catholic church in Oberwart, consecrated to the Ascension of Christ, was built by renowned Carinthian architect Günther Domenig and his partner Eilfried Huth between 1967 and 1969. Their new Easter Church (Osterkirche) is part of a church complex and forms an ensemble with the older church Mariae Himmelfahrt, a Romanesque building with a baroque façade.

When it was built in the late 1960s, the interior of the church was pared back to an absolute minimum. The gilded cross and the 13-panel pictures at the altar are later additions by Carinthian artist Valentin Oman in 1989. Another two additions include a large steel cross on top of a circular section, a visual rendering of the church tower, and the inscription Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben (I am the resurrection and the life) above the main entrance. Both were added in 2005.

Today the Easter Church is one of the most outstanding examples of the architectural style known as Brutalism. With its reduced geometrical forms, associated and co-ordinated elements and its plain fair-faced concrete walls, the church conveys a clear, concise and yet expressive message. The building is designed like a rotunda and its octagonal building references Byzantine churches with its upward spiral. Inside the dome-like building, worshippers and visitors are welcomed into a light-flooded open space within which is a concentric circular arrangement of chairs.

Text by Joshua Koeb

Function

1969Religious object: catholic church

2018 Religious object: catholic church

Ownership

1969 Katholische Kirche – Erzdiözese Eisenstadt

2018 Katholische Kirche – Erzdiözese Eisenstadt

Condition

1969 Good

2018 Good

Property Management

1969

2018

Form of government

1969 Parliamentary Republic

2018 Parliamentary Republic

Spatial Planning Agency

1969

2018

Type of heritage and protection

1969

2018 National monument (BDA 17.1.2018 GdStr. 1656/1, 1656/2, 1657)

Interview with Christian H.

Employee

Transcription
Well, I have to say I prefer the old church. And I think I’ve been inside twice. I really don’t like it. I find it too barren, and it’s a sort of concrete bunker. There’s another modern church in Tatzmannsdorf, it too must have been built in the 1960s or so, and it’s much brighter and friendlier. I look it a lot more than this one. – Of course, one option would be to paint it. Or put some windows in. Brightly coloured glass windows! Yes, that would certainly make it friendlier. As far as I can remember, the only thing inside that I really liked was the organ. I think it’s egg yolk in colour.

Interview with Gerhard G.

Local resident

Transcription
Well, let’s put it this way: when it was built, there was certainly quite a bit of opposition from the local population. Because of the way it looked, back then. You could say it was a bit revolutionary for the time. A church that looked like a concrete bunker. Some people still refer to it today as the concrete bunker. But they’ve also got used to it in the meantime. It’s part of the landscape now, the church with the centre next to it. And so it’s now just part of Oberwart, too. And you could say it’s also a cultural asset. – And no, you don’t need to make it a listed building. Because, if it looks horrible, you can just strike it off. If not, then ok, just leave it as it is. And if it ever gets dilapidated, then you can just pull it done and that’s it. But you don’t have to put it down as a listed building. For me, in the future, what it’ll look like in a hundred years, in two hundred years, I don’t think it’ll say much. So for me, it wouldn’t be worth preserving forever.

Interview with Renate S.

Parish staff

Transcription
They built it in 67 or 69. That’s more than fifty years ago already. Then, they did it all up again, all freshly renovated, and what have you. They said it used to look like a bunker, didn’t they? – Well, you get used to it after a while. At first, it was really bad, but now it’s ok. People would turn up – that’s why we had to put up a cross outside – and they’d say: ‘What’s that? Is that a church?’ They must have thought it was a bunker or something, right? That’s what they said, and now it’s the Easter Church. But people really didn’t know if it was a church or something else. – The one thing you have to say about old churches is that they’re much better, I mean, more beautiful. But this here is modern.