Wuensdorf Church Building, Germany, Images, German Religious Architecture Project, Architekten
Wuensdorf Kirche Building
Neue Deutsche Architektur: German building proposal by GRAFT
2 May 2008
Wuensdorf Church Building Design
“Over Confessional Church and Multifunction Hall” — 1st Prize Competition
Location: Wuensdorf, south of Berlin, Germany
Renderings: GRAFT Berlin
Until the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Russian Army’s headquarters in Germany occupied the vast territory in and around Wuensdorf. Closed to the public for decades, the area was left with contaminated soil but also beautiful landscapes where nature had been left alone to flourish.
In this area today, an enormous new development for health, recreation and sports is underway. The competition called for a spiritual centre: a church for confession that could be used as a multifunctional assembly hall or opera as well.
Given the historic background of the location, GRAFT questioned the values of traditional form, known typologies and institutionalised solutions for this particular project. GRAFT focused instead on a Church design that would provide a new framework for increasingly complex forms of belief systems and we approached the competition with the conviction of positive change and faith in inclusion over the exclusionary practices of traditional religious establishments.
Our belief was that no clear typology for a church, mosque or theatre should dominate the shape of the building, but that it should be present at the same time to create an entirely new typology. In the end, the formal language of the building communicated different religious and ‘scene-o-graphic’ typologies in its shape, without being literal. A diamond-shaped crystal ‘envelope’ was developed from three different geometric prefigures that fuse into one another.
This crystal envelope protects the visitor, but does not cut him/her off from the surrounding landscape. As a mental space for prayer rather than a real enclosure, the landscape has essential atmospheric importance, as it flows from outside to inside the building. All technological functions for modern theatre have been submerged into this landscape, providing complete flexibility for any kind of performance or service imaginable.
With the sermon on the mountain as a metaphoric starting point, a natural auditorium and stage are created that provide the ‘scene-o-graphic’ background for people coming together in prayer underneath the sky.
Wuensdorf Kirche – Building Information
Type: assembly hall, competition 1st prize
Location: Wuensdorf, Berlin, Germany
Size: 5,150 m²
Project design 2006, in progress
Wuensdorf Church architect : GRAFT
Wünsdorf Kirche renderings: GRAFT Berlin, Germany
Multiverses Church Competition
GRAFT Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH
Büro Happold statische Beratung
On the site of the Wünsdorfer barracks, places of great historical importance and testimonies of changeable, sometimes tragic, events, the establishment of a church with high standards is a special sign of hope and change. It is precisely here that the question arises of the need for institutional building typologies, of the limitation of the “tried and tested”. Here everything calls for a future-oriented perspective, for the power of the possible with a view to the future, looking forward to the past, but not dominated by it.
Against this background, a church space has to be reinvented as a framework for increasingly complex and multifaceted forms of faith. Based on the foundations of Christian doctrine, an archetype of preaching in “worship” appears in the “Sermon on the Mount” of Jesus Christ. Not an institution, not a shell, but the power of the event, the coming together of the community under the open sky seems to give a formative picture.
The present draft suggests that the search for a place of reflection, a church with great appeal and distinctive character, and the need for a multi-functional event space with stage requirements of an opera house, should not be answered with a conventional church typology or with a well-known theater figure. A space in the open is proposed.
A hill formation is formed in the continuum of the Brandenburg landscape, the central soft hollow of which is framed by light landscape ridges. The central focus here is on the high transparency of a protective structure, which not only allows views of the forested surroundings of the place, but above all should also break the incident sunlight. At no point is the all-round view of the surroundings completely blocked, only the surrounding buildings and streets are hidden by the topography of the seating steps and ranks.
A crystalline architectural sculpture that supports the respective usage requirements with ease and changeability creates a sheltering shell with an unmistakable expression of the events taking place there. The result is a reflective gem that constantly lights up under different lighting effects, a kind of new energetic center as the spiritual heart of the Wünsdorfer development area. The shape, which at first glance is difficult to decipher, results from the intermeshing of three structures, two of which “deform” without caesura in the third. What can be read separately from one another is shown to be intertwined. The combination of apparent opposites creates an “in between”. A “trinity” arises, the boundaries of which prove to be incipherable.
Various event scenarios are possible. The stage with conventional lifting platforms allows:
1. to make the actual stage area disappear in the continuum of the topography for worship.
2. At the same time, any kind of concert and oratorio stage can emerge, in which the orchestra is at the center of the action. Depending on the cast, the surrounding ranks can be used as an extension of the stage.
3. For a classic opera company, the typical unity of a stage house appears completely transformed. Two spacious side platforms are accessed via the lifting platforms, which are hidden under the landscape. The stage tower with lighting bridges and moving floor seems to float above the stage and is hidden in the rising ceiling space above the stage. If necessary, a traditional peep box stage can easily be created using curtains. The great depth of the stage makes it possible to do without an additional back stage. Delivery and installation area for OB vans are located directly behind the stage at stage level.
All side rooms, rehearsal and preparation rooms, toilets, cloakrooms, office and storage rooms are located behind the stage covered by the topography to a large extent in the area of the building itself and are illuminated by horizontal cuts and slits on the slope. Only balconies for directing, sound directing and interpreters are arranged in the hall or below the tiers.
As a side chapel in the southeast corner of the building there is an additional hollow that opens to the south and offers space for 50-80 believers. This room can be accessed from the street independently of the main entrances to the building and thus offers the possibility of a constantly accessible retreat.
Visitors are led under the structure projecting over the forecourt and are led through the building on a main path leading to the rear entrances and to the outside church on the back. A visitor center with a shop is also accessible from here. Stairs and elevators can be used to climb to a viewing level above the rolling floor. There is also an additional wedding chapel with a view of the tree tops. The church bells or corresponding acoustic technology form the vertical end of the building.
Location: Wuensdorf, Germany
Architecture in Germany
German Architectural Designs – chronological list
Chapel Ruhewald Schloss Tambach in Coburg, Weitramsdorf, Coburg, Bavaria, southern Germany
photograph : Sebastian Kolm
Chapel Ruhewald Schloss Tambach in Coburg
German museum building : Folkwang Museum
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