Krobitz, Chapel of St Anna

Krobitz, Chapel of St Anna

Small-scale renewal: A chapel resounds with music

“Old and new, tradition and innovation complement each other perfectly in this project. The innovative spirit, the sensitive handling of the site and its traditions, and the participation of and interaction with people clearly mark out the Chapel of St Anna in Krobitz as an IBA project.”
Prof. Barbara Holzer, IBA Thüringen Advisory Board

Until recently, the small Chapel of St Anna served just once a year as a place of congregation. Villagers from Krobitz in the Saale-Orla district came together to celebrate Ascension – outdoors, due to the dilapidated state of the interior.

The turnaround came in response to an open call for new and unconventional ideas for churches as part of the ›STADTLAND:Church‹ exhibition in 2017 initiated by the EKM Evangelical Church in Central Germany and the IBA Thüringen.

The renowned international artist Carsten Nicolai gave the 11th century Romanesque chapel a new musical heart: a sculptural installation entitled ‘organ’ in the form of a gas-powered pyrophone made especially for the chapel in 2017. The unusual musical instrument has since attracted hundreds of visitors to the chapel and other artists have now also been invited to contribute new compositions. The interior of the chapel was renovated with a few simple additions including a new rammed earth floor and a simple wooden bench around the perimeter. With minimal means, the chapel has been revived as a place of congregation, prayer, music and Baukultur.

The art installation for the Chapel of St Anna in Krobitz is an IBA candidate project by the EKM Protestant Church of Central Germany.

The pyrophone features two rows of gas flames and was built by Frank Fietzek and Rob Feigel. Drawing: Frank Fietzek.

In contrast to the classical (church) organ, the sound generators are flames, which produce sounds by resonating in glass cylinders.

IBA project manager Ulrike Rothe in conversation with the artist Carsten Nicolai.

The art installation lends the Romanesque chapel a special sense of place and turns it into a landmark in the gently undulating landscape of the Saale-Orla region. The art chapel is the first of a series of projects that derive from the “Think lateral!” call for ideas competition initiated by the EKM Protestant Church in Central Germany as a way of finding innovative ideas for the many empty churches in rural Thuringia.

Opening hours
The church is open for groups on request. Please send an email to:


On an Amazing Resonance Space
21 March 2018

On an Amazing Resonance Space
Interview with Carsten Nicolai

But above all an acoustic space?

Churches are acoustically perhaps the most complicated places. They have such a high reverberation, so strong a resonance at certain frequencies that one quickly understands that a church interior is always a huge resonance space. It should be swinging at people, as an amplifier ultimately of the word and the music. People’s religious faith should be strengthened as a whole. The church interior is more than a classical instrument, it is a resonance body.

organ exhibits another classical element of the chapel: the flame, the eternal light.

Flames have their own archaism beyond Christian symbolism. The primordial elements fire, water, air, and earth—basically one has everything there. organ plays on these basic elements. When the flame begins to resonate, then you see the air rise and the flame changes its color: the playing flame becomes blue, the non-playing flame remains yellow. The visitor will connect the fire with the sound; in principle, one has a visualization of the sound; that is the beauty of this synesthetic aspect. The flame is the light source and the fire at the same time. In winter, organ will also heat the church. Moreover, the flames deprive the environment of oxygen, so there is a rudimentary lack of oxygen. But this will not happen at the church in Krobitz, because it is too porous due to its age.

In the best sense, this sounds archaic, timeless, and somehow also meditative.

Yes, it is what one conceptualized the least in the beginning. Actually, it is a return to the original use of such spaces. That is the beauty.


Momentan keine Termine

Main Partners
Involved in Planning Process and Artists
Execution of Construction
IBA Project Coordination

Ulrike Rothe
Telefon +49 3644 51832-13

IBA Material