Like a delicate veil: an altar in white marble in a castle chapel in Appiano

An altar of white marble in the chapel of a castle in Appiano.

Where does the work of an architect end and that of the artist begin? There is no need to seek a distinction when a work is the outcome of intense and rewarding collaboration, such as the one that saw architects David and Verena Messner alongside artist and sculptor Franz Messner collaborate on a small sacred site in Alto Adige, where the studio generally operates.

A sacred site

The ancient estate of Castel Aichberg in Appiano, along the wine road, has a small chapel built in 1875. Inside, splendid frescoes by artist Johann Hintner embellish walls and ceilings, while the mosaics on the floor fill the space with colour and movement. The architectural project sought to focus again on the centrality to the chapel by re-arranging a few well-measured elements: an altar positioned on the longitudinal axis under a circular window and three benches.

Stone drapery

Created in collaboration with sculptor Franz Messner, the altar is in a block of pure white marble from Covelano, a town near Lasa, in Val Venosta. A symbol of purity, the absolute whiteness of this marble contrasts with the rich, multi-colour decoration of the chapel. The imposing weight of the cube is disguised by the delicate drapery work sculpted on the vertical surfaces. Rather like a liturgical vestment draped on the top of the altar left to slide downwards, the surface of the marble resembles a veil animated by a delicate breeze: by a spirit. The elegant processing of the marble material encouraged the encounter between architectural idea and artistic implementation.

Between art and architecture

Brother and sister David and Verena Messner, after studying architecture in Innsbruck, founded the Messner Architects studio in 2013, with a focus on creative dialogue between architecture, landscape, art and design. In addition to the Appiano chapel, in 2016 they completed the re-qualification of the presbytery of the parish church in Scena (Bolzano), once again working together with Franz Messner (1952 – 2017), an artist trained in Bolzano and Monaco active in the Collalbo art workshop as of 1977.


Project: Messner Architects & Franz Messner (1952-2017)
Location: Appiano (Bolzano)
Realisation: 2015
Execution: Bagnara True Stone


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