Uncertain Certainty

architect Christian Kerez
project Oberrealta Chapel, Grisons, Switzerland
written by Erwin Viray


I am now leafing through the new book Christian Kerez: Uncertain Certainty. When one opens the book as one would do with books printed in the West, flipping the pages right to left, the first work one sees is the Oberrealta Chapel in Grisons, Switzerland, built in 1992. It is the first architectural work of Christian Kerez I saw, besides photographies that I encountered earlier. The project description for Oberrealta starts: The chapel in Oberrealta stands at the outermost edge of a high plateau above the Rhine Valley. It gives us a specific geography and opens the scene, a breath-taking site. Another chapel once crowned this distinctive topographic location. This gives us the hint that the chapel is built on the foundation of precedents, something that existed before. Its foundations frame the floor of the new building. This shows us that the new is framed by what was there.