Chapel of Reconciliation
The Chapel of Reconciliation is a project by Rudolf Reitermann and Peter Sassenroth and it was one of the buildings I liked most on my Berlin trip in the autumn of 2010. The main reason for me to like this building is that its gives you a homey feeling. Unlike the tremendous scale of the usual churches, this chapel welcomes you in a different way. In addition to this, the natural materials support on this home-like approach as well.
Check my old photos of this structure from that trip and read its short history below.
The Chapel of Reconciliation got its name from a neo-Gothic style old church, which once stood on the exact same place. It was a brick-built structure designed by architect Gotthilf Ludwig Möckel and its construction was completed in 1894.
Although the Church of Reconciliation got some damage during the Second World War, it managed to survive the war. But it couldn’t handle the politics!
When the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961, the church found itself within the death stripe and it was inaccessible to the people except the border guards, who were using its tower as an observation post. And finally the church was blown up in 1985 by the German Democratic Republic in order to increase the security and order. However, some says that it was an embarrassment to East Germany’s Communist leaders.
It is also ironic that just after four years, the wall itself was destroyed.
Today some portion of the death strip on Bernauer Street have been preserved and we can count the new Chapel of Reconciliation as a part of this site. The modern chapel has a compressed earth core, which also contains pieces of the old church. Yes, this chapel is not only built on the foundations of the old church, but also has its blood in its veins!
This rammed-earth core structure, built with sustainable natural methods also pleases the fans of green architecture. While the remains of the former church are ingrained into the thick clay walls of the chapel, the spiritual and symbolic meaning of this approach is also appealing for those. We can maybe call this as reviving after death. Yes, even on the death stripe.
For me as an architecture lover, I liked that they did not reconstruct the old structure, but built a new one for today, for our present life, without losing the sense of the history. If you will be around, I suggest you to visit this friendly space and I hope you will find the Chapel of Reconciliation with a greener landscape around; unlike me, who -again- managed to find a construction work going on.