PRAY TO THE WALL

Edited by: Riccardo Del Fabbro – Architecture Department Editor – riccardo.delfabbro@positive-magazine.com
Proofreading: Bianca Baroni
Where : Berlin, Germany
Artworks: “materic oxymoron: soul’s volumes”

1

What does a place of cult represent today?
What is the idea rooted in the people on the traditional shape of a place of cult?
Let’s narrow the field of investigation.
Today, Christians / Catholics, what kind of opinion, how they imagine, their place of cult?

Many may like the small country church, simple romanesque, simple romantique.
Others might prefer the architectural grandeur and mood of a great basilica or a great cathedral.
Very few, if any, when you think of a church, think of an hermetic wall that tries to hide its religious function!
Obviously, in this article we will talk about this last example.

2

St. Norbert is located in the Schöneberg district of Berlin, just a few subway stop away from Potsdamer Platz.
This architecture has two very important dates that mark its history.
In 1913, year of the beginning of its construction, designed by Carl Kuehn, construction which ends in 1918.
In 1958, when the church was radically redesigned by the architects Hermann Fehling, Daniel Gogel and Peter Pfankuch, after being seriously damaged during the Second World War.

3

Precisely because of the bombing of the war, the complex redesigned at the end of the 50s included the construction of a real religious complex, both Catholic and Protestant, where St.Norbert is the Catholic church, Paul-Gerhardt is the Evangelical church, a real choice of intercultural dialogue.
The two towers represent the intense dialogue between the two buildings, the point of contact, but also a double landmark for the neighborhood.
Let’s get back on St.Norbert.

4

What makes this building special is the impermeability of the inside to the outside, which makes fascinating and mysterious this pointy volume in its shapes and rough beacuse of its concrete.
A wall which of course in Berlin takes on an even more full of meaning, but instead of the “wall” best known, this “spiritual” wall is synonymous of community, cultural and social ties, is a building-wall that doesn’t divide the community but at the contrary joins the block’s residents.

5

Materic Oxymoron: the stiffness of a wall that sinuously embraces those who attend the church.
Completing this intriguing volume is the bell tower, a contemporary tower in its volume and design, which makes superfluous its true function and marks the time and the identity of this residential part of town.
In the 20th century, new buildings used as a place of cult were considered cold and not suitable for spiritual functions, I leave to the reader the final verdict on this example.

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