Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Stone by stone to the House of One

The House of One is taking shape. A sand-colored brick wall on the edge of Petriplatz in Berlin, where the multi-religious house is being built, gives a sensory impression of what the future building will look like. Like this model facade, the synagogue, church and mosque will be built around a central meeting space made of light-colored bricks. "It will be a building that connects people," said Rabbi and Foundation Board Chairman Andreas Nachama to the guests and journalists who had come to the construction site on the bright winter day for the presentation of the brickwork and the associated open-air exhibition.

House of religious diversity

The rabbi offered a short prayer, as did Pastor Gregor Hohberg and Imam Osman Örs, also clergy of the House of One. Heinz Jackelen, pastor of the Church of Sweden and supporter of the House of One partner project Guds Hus in Stockholm, closed the religious ceremony as guest with a blessing in Swedish. The Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala, Antje Jackelen, sent greetings and her attachment to the House of One.

"This is a building site in Berlin that is really running successfully," State Secretary Gerry Woop of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe was pleased to say. "The House of One is a project that we consider politically important in its diversity, which also reflects the diversity of Berlin." And Manfred Kühne, head of department at the Senate Department for Urban Development, highlighted the tenacity of the House of One's initiators, whose steadfastness made this special peace project of religions possible.

However, the House of One is not only special as a meeting place of religions, it is also structurally exceptional. The house will be built from the ground up with bricks, without a concrete core. Around 2.3 million bricks are neede for the 46-meter-high structure.  "We want to build a house with a function that will still be valid in the distant future," said architect Johannes Kuehn of the Kuehn Malvezzi office. So what was sought was a building material that would last for many decades. Brick was the obvious choice. Already centuries ago synagogues, churches or mosques were built of baked earth. In Berlin and Brandenburg demonstrably since the 13th century. Many of these buildings are still standing today. The House of One combines this building tradition with modern aesthetics.

Sustainable building material

Brick is also a special building material in terms of sustainability. Not only are the bricks very durable, the walls, which are almost one meter deep, maintain a nearly constant indoor climate. "Building services can thus be kept to a minimum," said architect Kuehn.

In order to be able to experience the future effect of the House of One in the urban space in advance, the foundation had the sample facade built on the construction site at Petriplatz in Berlin. It is a kind of laboratory where aesthetics, color, weather resistance, joint variations of the traditional building material can be observed.

Master mason Kevin Schulz, who also trains the German national masonry team, was pleased that with the House of One, the traditional craft receives appreciation. "This building is extraordinary; you hardly find anything like it today," Schulz said.

Exhibition on peace project

With the presentation of the show piece of masonry, the foundation also opened the exhibition "House of One - a peace project of religions." On the construction fence around the brick wall, the viewer learns in an open air exhibition about the beginnings of the idea, the development as well as the current dialogue work of the foundation and the commitment against anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. The many facets of the commitment of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the House of One can thus be experienced.