Pope’s Altar


Architect: Werner Sobek, Germany  
Location: Freiburg, Germany   

German architect Werner Sobek was commissioned to create a spectacular but temporary altar for Pope Benedict XVI's last visit to Germany. The design specifications called for a building that would protect the Papal entourage from inclement weather during an open air mass held on last September, hence the extraordinary 20 meter cantilever. Werner Sobek also wanted to ensure that the altar could be dismantled quickly, and he designed it so that most of the materials could be recycled.

Placed on a green field at the Freiburg airfield, the cantilevering altar was built without a single drop of glue and without any kind of welding. Instead, only bolted, rotating, and clamp joints were used, which allowed for quick assembly and even faster disassembly. Almost all of the materials can be re-assembled elsewhere.

The steel support is covered in laminar wood, while the rear wall and roof were covered in PVC and Polyester fabric panels. In order to support the cantilever, which rises 15 meters above the ground, Werner Sobek employed techniques commonly used to build temporary bridges.

Technical info: PVC / Polyester Worbur fabric panels
Picture credits: Zooey Braun