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St Anthony's Church, Antoniuskirche, Karl Moser, Basel, © Karin Bürki/Heartbrut. Explore more on

St Anthony’s Church

Picture of Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

Proto brute

It was the first church in Switzerland to be built in raw reinforced concrete – in 1927, some 25 years before the term Brutalism was coined. Karl Moser’s building is a work of uncompromising superlatives: the church tower rises a conspicuous 62 metres into the sky, and the sober architecture is reminiscent of industrial buildings. The church also broke new artistic ground, with huge stained glass windows by Otto Staiger and Hans Stocker. St Anthony’s is one of the most important and audacious works of modern architecture in Switzerland. No wonder it is a favourite place of pilgrimage for architects and Brutalism devotees from all over the world.

While the exterior is just on the right side of the clean-cut monumentalism favoured by the Duce, the interior is surprisingly warm and simple – and very Gothic. The exposed concrete barrel vault and its eight supporting columns even add a classical element. The clinker-tiled floor radiates a soothing, earthy warmth, while the modernist stained-glass windows bathe the church in almost psychedelic fractals of light on sunny days. But it is the plain wall behind the altar – adorned only by a gold mosaic cross – that stands out as one of St Anthony’s most striking features.
Inspired by the 1922 French church of Notre Dame du Raincy, St Anthony’s polarised opinion from the start. The locals soon coined a new word for it: soul silo.
Antoniuskirche, Karl Moser, Basel 1927, Brutalism, © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

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