Christ Pavilion

Christ Pavilion

gmp · von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects
Volkenroda, Germany
Project Year
Jürgen Schmidt

Christ Pavilion

gmp · von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects as Architecture

The Pavilion of Christian religions, a combined contribution of the Catholic and Protestant Churches for the EXPO 2000, is intended to be a contemplative counterpart to the vanity fair with architectural highlights: Simple in structure, reduced to a few materials, precise in detail, unmistakable in its appearance and spatial atmosphere. The architecture of the Pavilion is restricted to the clear presentation of the modular construction and its details. The modest and simple choice of materials, steel, glass, gravel and water, are “decorated“ with the addition of one large tree.

The surrounding cloister, 4 m wide and 6.80 m high, frames the overall complex and simultaneously functions as an exhibitions space. In the north the cloister comprises a voluminous hall 21 m square and 18 m high, with its roof supported by nine slender crossformed steel columns. This hall, its dignity and solemnity emphasized by lighting and strong verticality, can be approached directly from the main square as well as from several connections from the surrounding cloister. Spatial “enclaves“, 3.60 m high, deep and wide, are located in the transmission between “Christ Hall“ and the cloister as “Rooms of Silence“, where themes of Christianity and the Church are communicated to the visitor in a semantic interpretation. Staircases lead to the underground “crypt“. The walls are freely contoured with fair-faced concrete and three of the large crossformed steel columns are continued through from the expansive ceiling.

The spatial atmosphere of all areas is created by a modulation of light. The “Christ Hall“ receives light from toplights centrally located above the column heads, emphasizing the vertical quality of the slender columns. The surrounding surfaces of thinly cut marble form a light-transmissive envelope, its lively colours creating a spatial atmosphere. In contrast to this the lighting emphasis in the “crypt“ is solemn: Thin light slots along the column axis and a surrounding strip of light in the floor create a focus, which emphasizes the character of concrete and renders a mystical intensity through the effects of shadows. The surrounding “cloister“ is equipped with a double glass facade, used as large-scale showcases. The space between is filled with various materials from nature and technology as part of the overall presentation. Depending on the respective content, the glass walls are more or less translucent or partially transparent.

The whole complex was dismantled after the EXPO in Hanover and reerected in a modified form in the Cistercian monastery in Volkenroda, Thüringen in 2001.

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