Zapffe chapel

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Zapffe chapel

Levan Dzegvelashvili @ Georgian technical university, architecture faculty (2018)


‘’…let the earth be silent after ye’’1

  ‘’Human existence, for Zapffe, is nothing but the chronic spasm of a reeling, defunct species whose surplus of consciousness has made it unfit for life. Zapffe compares our situation to that of the Cervus giganteus, a giant deer of the paleontological era that at one time was thought to have gone extinct due to its antlers becoming too large. The overdeveloped human intellect, which Zapffe calls ‘an abomination, an absurdity, an exaggeration of disastrous nature’, can in a similar way be seen as the result of a blind, and highly unfortunate, organic mutation — unfortunate because it makes life existentially unbearable and categorically unsustainable.’’2

Peter Wessel Zapffe was born in Norway, in a small city surrounded by northen sea and Nordic fiords. For him  loneliness and  coldness of the northern city has never been unfamiliar. According to his philosophy the religion is nothing, but one of the instruments by which we can get rid of human existence. In his view, The human craving for justification on matters such as life and death cannot be satisfied, hence humanity has a need that nature cannot satisfy. The tragedy, following this theory, is that humans spend all their time trying not to be human. The human being, therefore, is a paradox.


Nonetheless, the project aimed to create positive universality by making the chapel for all religions and believes, I took the other way of negative universality and made the place for no one. It’s still universal but in negative context. Hence, I think that zapffe’s philosophy itself is some kind of place for no one. The project also, in many respects, plays with paradoxes. For instance in zapffeian philosophy non being is an ultimate aim, so when you translate it into art, particularly in architecture in becomes almost opposite, because architecture itself, can be seen as some kind of fear of disappearance and total annihilation.



What prompted the project?

 The project was promoted under the third course project: ‘’the chapel for all’’ at Georgian technical university.

What defined the language of representation through which you explore this speculation?

The architectural language of the project was fully defined by its philosophical constituent: the  mysticality, darkness and magic atmosphere of Peter Wessel Zapffe’s writings and in general Nordic (I would say ‘’The Northern’’) philosophical and aesthetical tradition.


It  was also inspired by German architect Hannsjorg Voth and by Music artists, such as Danish sound designer Martin Stig Andersen and Californian experimental metal band Sunn O))).

What is your take on the contemporary used of the digital collage? what is the effect and purpose of this method within your project?

In my view, the main problem of digital used lays in the multiplicity of mediums via by the viewer receives the final outcome (any result). For example the main difference between the model and digital content is the concreteness and physicality of the first one.


I would argue that, digital content sometimes lacks (if we use juhani pallasmaa’s term) ‘’the multisensory’’ capacity of experiencing any kind of visual art, that means the physicality of things, and nevertheless if digitally made visual art is well-printed, I think it still has to be very accurate and tactile to express above mentioned characteristics of handmaiden things.  But I think that, somehow you can reach the multisensory and atmospheric, poetic dimensions through digital collages also.


What was your work process in terms of project development and drawings? How and to what extent was the drawing used as discoursive tool through which to develop the project istelf?

he project mainly relies on the text than on drawings or visual material. But the best way to express the essence of  it was to use that particular language and aesthetics. For me the surroundings, nature, and landscapes, that was inspired by Jacob van Ruisdael paintings, was suitable for the charactiristics of zapffe’s philosophy.

Hand drowing

What defined the form of the chapel?

Personally, for me the  searching of the form was absolutely secondary. There wasn’t any pre-conceptual drawings or sketches during project making. I liked the strangeness and rigorousness of the form, because it was the best way  to represent the substance of Zapffe’s philosophy. I think that, the main tool by which I express myself in this project is the relationship between nature and architecture. This form for me represents some kind of rudeness, monumentality, aliniation, asceticism, timelessness and indifference towards surroundings, also the symmetry and proportion which was very important for me.




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