Orthodox Synagogue,

Orthodox Synagogue,

Architect
Gramazio & Kohler
Location
Potsdam, Germany | View Map
Project Year
2009
Category
Synagogues

Orthodox Synagogue

Gramazio & Kohler as Architects

The Jewish Community of Potsdam will once again have an important place in the city. Across from the baroque Marstall, and on the edge between the historic and the reconstructive, yet contemporary block structure, Jewish life is back in the heart of the city after more than 70 years.


As the heart of the community center, the synagogue will not be hidden in the block courtyard. Instead, it sits directly on the street integrated with the all the functions that a Jewish center represents.


The interior atmosphere is made possible by the gradual opening of the travertine façade which stands behind a glass wall on the top two floors. Both the synagogue benches and ceiling are of wood and make reference to the historic synagogues of Eastern Europe. The floor and front wall remain neutral. The daily and seasonal change of light will animate the serene space.


The path from the street-level entry hall to the synagogue as the conclusion of the building determines not only the spatial organization but the façade as well. As a reinforced concrete structure, the long sides of the building are dressed in a façade of travertine stones, which are punctuated by windows on the first and second floors. The south-side street-level façade is closed, except for the glazed and setback entry foyer that visually links the street to the garden. In favor of filigree, the façade loses its massiveness as it rises. This transformation, which begins after the increasingly spacious middle rooms, is achieved with a linear stacking structure at 60 degrees whose rotation creates a Star of David motif. The façade gradient transforms the wall into a textile, the profane into the celebratory. This process culminates at the synagogue, allowing light to pass through the side walls. Both monumental and ephemeral, the idea of the Temple and the Tabernacle are united in the atmosphere of the synagogue. In another material and scale, the fading wall motif continues onto the ceiling in the form of a wooden screen.


So that the design of this opening wall is not limited to the synagogue room itself, but wanders around the building, the façade also has a presence in the stair hall. Emanating as the heart of the community center, the emerging synagogue becomes part of the city.

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