Monday, 29 March 2010

The Chapel of Reconciliation

The Chapel of Reconciliation in Berlin was built on the site of the Church of Reconciliation which was destroyed by the GDR in 1985. The Church of Reconciliation was consecrated in 1894, it was a large neo-gothic structure built for the growing area of Wedding. When the Berlin wall was built in 1961 the outer wall went across the pavement in front of the church and the inner wall just behind it- leaving the wall in Soviet controlled no-mans land. The GDR decided to destroy the church in 1985 because they saw it as a symbol of opposition, the Protestant church was a home for free speech and opponents of the Soviet regime. However when the church was destroyed the images of the collapsing steeple were broadcast around the world causing an outcry against the regime and assuring that the church and all that it stood for passed into legend.

The Demolition of the Church of Reconciliation in 1985

The Chapel of Reconciliation was built to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The design was by Berlin architects Peter Sassenroth and Rudolf Reitermann. It was built as a place of remembrance and contemplation. The site of the old church was returned to the parish for religious use after the fall of the wall and reunification of Berlin. The foundations of the site were still visible and these foundations anchor the axis of the new oval chapel. The materials used to construct the chapel are very understated and modest. The main inner space is made from rammed, load bearing earth and was the first rammed earth structure to be built in Berlin. When they created the mix for the earth they incorporated rubble from the old church as a symbol of remembrance. The outer space is created by simple timber louvers which create beautiful shadows internally. The bells from the old church were recovered and are now housed in a wooden frame near the entrance to the site, when they are incredibly loud, giving an impression of the once grand church which stood on the isite.

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