Chorruine St.Nikolai

Design Study - Hamburg, 1997


With our project of redesigning the current build, we reconstruct the old churches habitus, not its substance. It is therefore a form of transcription of the church into another language, thus not a reconstruction.

A new room – the new nave – is put over the construction, like a roof forming a chamber above the sea of debris (subspace) without touching it. A space that cannot be walked but bypassed via the side's triforium (generally not accessible to the public). Here, brightness reigns through the slits of sweat above (streaks of light, like rain, like tears, like sweat and blood and...).

The two fitted sails should be almost invisible – like veils of smoke. Their primary purpose is to outline the upper space and to capture the finest streaming light, which is too weak to ever reach the opposite side of the room (in 9 meters distance). Now it receives a backing material, becoming visible. It is important for the sails’ bottom edges to adapt the height of the altar apse wall, which is situated behind the satined septum, since that height touches the ruin’s upper edge, needing to be visualized and underlined. Also,the same height still remainsat two points on the vestry’s wall, defining the roof’s and the gallery’s height. The sails’ bottom edge carries on (viewed in profile) the ruin’s upper edgeof the sacristy’s sector, projecting the altar’s rear wall into the room.

The construction is made up of steel plates, two storey in height, that are given firmness and sustainability by ribs – analogical to naval engineering. Those rest on two narrow pads in the front area and on the Chorruin’s masonry on the apse’s side. These walls of steel and the roof’s steel plates form the so-called upper room. That upper room receives a weatherproof leaden skin, an intermediate layer that is fully separated of the steel structure by isolating boards insensitive to humidity. On the inside, the area of sacristy and gallery is covered in copper (sheets, perforated plates, grids etc.), complementing the Chorruin’s remaining rests. The tower’s façade comprises black glass, additionally frosted on the edges, in the upper and middle section. The bottom zone and the side chapel’s façade obtain clear insulating glass. The entire façade descends stavelessly. It is important to emphasize the project’s airiness, which particularly manifests itself through the ground’s layout and through the transept,as well as through the disclosed basement of the construction. (Design Study 1997)