Thursday, July 4, 2019

Kick-off for construction in 2020

The next important date for construction has been set: the foundation stone for the House of One will be laid on April 14, 2020. "This is an important step towards the structural completion of our interreligious peace project," says Rabbi Andreas Nachama, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and member of the Presidium of the House of One. "For several years now we have been active in interreligious dialogue and - Jews, Christians and Muslims together - in our daily work in the House of One Foundation we have been contributing time and again to greater understanding, tolerance and togetherness in our society." Now the structural shell will also grow.

Built ring parabola

The date is linked to another important event. It is the anniversary of the premiere of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's drama "Nathan the Wise", which was first shown in Berlin in 1783. The drama is a plea for humanism and peaceful understanding between religions and society. "It was then that Berlin opened up for the first performance of Lessing's important, at that time highly controversial work," says Imam Kadir Sanci, member of the House of One's Presidium. "Today we are grateful that Berlin is reopening, this time for the House of One."

His colleague on this committee, Pastor Gregor Hohberg, adds: "The openness today can and will not only affect the three religions that are the founders of the House of One Foundation, but it goes far beyond that and invites atheists, religious seekers and all other religions to engage in dialogue". A few years ago a newspaper text even read: "Lessing's ring parable becomes architecture". A beautiful parallel that is worth thinking about.

The place of the House of One - in whose immediate vicinity Lessing's publisher Friedrich Nicolai ran its business - seems in many respects to have been created for this peace project of the religions. Matthias Wemhoff, state archaeologist and future neighbour with his House of Archaeology, which is being built at the same time on Petriplatz, sees it the same way: "There is no better place for such a project". He sees the building above all as a spiritual centre, entirely in the tradition of this historically important place.

Preparing the construction phase

The archaeological excavations have been completed and the building site can now be fortified in the middle of the once swampy floodplain that was the centre of Berlin. In the coming months, around 70 concrete piers over 30 metres long will be drilled into the ground to stabilise it permanently. Only then the masons can begin building the House of One brick by brick on the foundations of the former Petri Church, Berlin's first church.

Three years are planned for the construction of the House of One. The costs amount to 43.5 million euros. 8.5 million euros in donations and contributions have already been received, 10 million euros have been pledged by the federal government, 10 million euros by the state of Berlin, and another 10 million euros will be contributed by major private donors. The remaining gap of five million euros will be closed with crowdfunding and donation campaigns.

The educational work of the interreligious pedagogue team in the House of One and the corresponding workshops, presentations and events of the House of One Foundation will continue unaffected by this.