The church christening on 9 May 2015 ends the odyssey of the Leipzig parish community that has lasted over seventy years. With the construction of the new church, St. Trinitas has returned to the centre of the city. For us as architects it was important to develop the new parish church out of the organism of the surrounding city. It obtains its presence through its high church building structure and church tower, but most of all through the inviting openness of the parish courtyard. With its building envelope made of masoned Rochlitz porphyry, the structure acknowledges its region and tradition.
After some interim solutions, the plans for a second Trinitatis church were not picked up again until the end of the 1970s. The community was assigned a plot of land in a inconvenient location outside of the Leipzig city centre for the new building (according to the plans of the Bauakademie der DDR [Building Academy of the German Democratic Republic]). An unremarkable functional building was created there under the direction of Udo Schultz by 1982 but due to poor foundation conditions it was already demonstrating significant structural defects just a few years later. The community did not want to bear the costs for the cost-intensive repairs, particularly because they wanted to return to the city centre. In 2008 the community entered into negotiations with the city of Leipzig regarding a potential new construction site.
The first Leipzig Trinitatis church was built in the direct vicinity of the Old Town in 1847. The structure was heavily damaged during World War II and merely the external walls and church tower remained. The ruins were blasted in 1954 with the promise of a new beginning for the community in a larger church. However, the building permit was then withdrawn by the SED (Socialist Unity Party) government and the construction site was cleared by the city administration.
Our 2009 competition entry: The task was to define a site in a prominent location between the dominating skyline feature of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and the square at Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz that respectfully integrates into its surroundings and forms a clearly distinguishable edge along the urban square as well as the city centre ring. The undercut on the ground floor is inspired by the motif of the Leipzig passage system and leads from the city centre to the parish courtyard.
The silhouettes of the church and town hall define a gateway for urban development along the rising topography of the Martin-Luther-Ring. It marks the beginning of the further development of the neighbouring urban area with the S-Bahn rapid transit station at Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz, the future Monument to Freedom and Unity and the Nonnenmühlgasse area.
The structure is now being put up with the ‘pouring’ of the triangular plot of land and the concreting of the poles of the church interior and church tower on opposite sides.
The parish courtyard is ‘cut into’ the area between the two highpoints to create a new central meeting location.
With its interior height of 14.50 metres, the church hall forms the framework for a transcendent spatial experience. Indirect daylight coming through the large 22-metre-high skylight and falling upon the rear wall of the altar draws focus to the chancel.
The chancel was simulated in advance and coordinated with the client to check its dimensions. Ansgar looks into the model of the church hall used to test the light direction. The liturgical spaces were designed by the artist Jorge Pardo who is of Cuban origin and currently works in Los Angeles (shown here with Ansgar on the building site).
1 Missionary community: message and approach 2 No-threshold chancel for diverse forms of liturgy 3 Large liturgy with gallery and chapel 4 Entry from the sacristy or the main portal 5 Stations of the cross embedded in the floor 6 Church music with organ and choir 7 Tabernacle in separate sacrament chapel
The church hall is situated crosswise and enable sufficient room for the arrangement of the community in an open surrounding area whose optical and scenographic centre is the chancel. Partitions were eliminated, opening the chancel for various forms of liturgy. Merely a gentle slope surrounds the chancel, which created optimal visual perspectives. The chancel is connected by five paths to the portal and the baptismal font, the location where the Madonna is positioned, the church window (to the city), the tabernacle and the chapel.
Across from the large cross on the rear wall of the altar is a second cross carved into the large wall area above the gallery as a negative imprint. It opens the church hall to the light of the low-lying sun in the western sky.
One special element of the church hall is the large church window (by artist Falk Haberkorn) that sparks curiosity and allows individual approaches from outside. It opens and delimits the church hall at the same time while serving as a targeted opening as an interface between the world of the profane and the realm of the sacred.
We developed the support structure concept for the support-free organ gallery together with the support structure planners Seeberger Friedl from Munich.
1 Wall-like support with cantilever on the east wall 2 Wall-like support with cantilever on the west wall 3 North wall and organ gallery trough suspended 4 Room-high bridge suspended
Creation from the quarry: By creating the facade out of Rochlitz porphyry, we are continuing a tradition of construction of the city of Leipzig, such as with the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), and of the region, such as with the Benediktinerkloster zum Heiligen Kreuz (Benedictine Priory of the Holy Cross) in Wechselburg. The horizontal layering of the various heights firmly anchors the building with the plot of land and allows it to symbolically grow out of the ground. The projections and recesses of this layering conveys the rich tradition of the regional architecture into an independent contemporary building of particular emotional value.