green design, eco design, sustainable design, Schneekirche, Snow Church, Mitterfirmiansreut, Koeberl Doeringer Architekten Passau, snow architecture, ice architecture

Despite mild winters due to global warming, the town of Mitterfirmiansreut banded to build the 2011 Snow Church, which commemorates the historic snowstorm of 1911 which rendered the townspeople stranded and unable to travel to mass on Christmas Day. At the time they burrowed into a large snow drift, creating a church-cave for gathering, and thus the tradition was born.

For 2011’s rendition, the villagers raised over 130,000 euros to build the structure, which was delayed due to the unexpected warm weather.Architect Alfons Doeringer gathered almost 50,000 cubic feet of snow to create the domed walls and interior of the structure. The front steeple rises 62 feet in packed snow, and the entire building is 85 feet long and 36 feet wide. The interior of the church holds an impressive 200 people, although it has only been ordained for ceremonial mass. Two massive arches at the end and side of the church act as entryways for the villagers. Each arch is also lined with stacked ice blocks, allow daylight to filter in. The ice bricks also emulate the stained glass windows of a traditional church.Lit with blue spotlights from the outside, the church resembles an ethereal snowdrift that reaches toward the winter sky. Visitors can attend services, historical lectures, musical performances, and other fun family activities.

The longstanding tradition of the Snow Church has only been interrupted by the recent effects of global warming, which has caused the interior to be closed to visitors for the past few days. During warmer winter weather, visitors are able to tour the outside, but the inside remains locked until safer, colder temperatures set in.

For more photos, check out Reuters and Der Spiegel.

+ Schneekirche Snow Church

+ Koeberl Doeringer Architekten

Via Der Spiegel

Photo: Koeberl Doeringer Architects Passau and Reuters