Old Things in new Wrapping

Old Things in new Wrapping

Lutheran church

Behind the modern wooden shingle and glass façades of the Lutheran church in Herzogenaurach you can still find parts of the old church.

The growing number of members of the new Lutheran church in Herzogenaurach urgently called for expanding the old church building. The church, erected in 1933 providing 200 seats, was not able to provide space for the number of interested people anymore. In 2004, the parish decided to launch an architecture competition. Since the old church obviously was of low value in terms of monumental preservation, it was left open what to do with it.

Eberhard Wimmer Architekten from Munich won. One of the reasons for this was their unique integration of the old church into the new building.

Old Things integrated

With 420 seats, the newly built Lutheran church in Herzogenaurach is significantly larger than the old building.

The old church was used as a basis of the expansion and reconstructed in a unique way. For this, the new church walls were erected in the desired distance to the old ones, the latter were then removed. The old altar apse with its characteristic round arch can now still be seen inside, just like the old timber beam ceiling. The old layout was traced with six beams, so the proportions of the old church interior are now still visible as a silhouette inside the new building.

The integration has created an interesting blend of old and new, giving the old parts a central meaning within the new structure. E.g. the old choir, which had housed the altar area, is now home of the new organ.

Striking on the Outside

The strict shape of the old church stands out from the townscape of the little Central Franconian town in s striking way. Above the layout of the old church towers a pyramid-like, striking belfry. A wooden shingle cover faces façade and roof areas and gives the church a monolithic, sculptural appearance thanks to the homogenous surfaces.

The wooden shingles are made of Canadian giant cedar timber, known for providing a good natural protection against weather and insects. Still, a certain level of weathering is visible, depending on the direction the surface points to.

The openings of the façade are designed as pole-disk constructions and appear as window ribbons with a striking vertical structure. The light-flooded lobby, spanning across two levels, opens up towards the public square in a generous manner.

Plain inside

Right below the new steeple there are the  principals altar, font and pulpit. Unlike the old structure the altar now stands in the middle of the room.

The principals have a minimalistic, plain volume, they can be positioned and used anywhere. Unlike common churches there is no step in front of the altar. This brings the audience at one level with the altar servers and guarantees additional flexibility. The seats can also be positioned in a flexible manner, but the basic idea is positioning them around the altar. A plain gallery roofs about a third of the floor area.

Inside noble, cool surfaces or natural stone and concrete dominate in connection with natural, multi-colored timber. The shapes and surfaces are unpretentious and plain, but obviously of high quality in terms of look and feel. The floor is covered with gray dolomite boards, most of the walls consist of fair-faced concrete. As a contrast there are many timber elements at the ceilings, walls and the interior. The plain and noble materials give the church a completely modern look.

Also the construction meets today’s standards. Modern timber materials needed to be used for this construction task. In order to match the old timber beam ceiling, Eberhard Wimmer decided to use lamellae beams of bright laminated veneer lumber for the new ceilings. Together with cross laminated timber elements they form ceiling elements which were able to be pre-fabricated at the workshop. The lamellae are continued with the pole-disk façades and the vertical sun and screen protection elements.

The deep opening elements create a unique atmosphere inside, and in connection with the sun protection panels the room is plunged into various light atmospheres: from diffuse and dim down to shining and sophisticated.

More than just a Church

The Lutheran church is designed like a modern event venue. Materials and execution have not much in common with the dignity of old churches, but the lighting and window concept creates a contemplative, sacred atmosphere.

The equipment consisting of small kitchen, office, group rooms and rest rooms may be unusual for a church. However, it was important to the parish their new church to be not only a sacred center, but also a place of social encounter. The appealingly designed group rooms, the representative lobby and the flexibility of usage of the whole building are capable of meeting these requirements.

Project details


Eberhard Wimmer Architekten BDA, Munich, Germany


Year of construction: 2010


Lutheran parish, Herzogenaurach


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prabirbanik82's picture
prabirbanik82 17. December 2014 - 11:56

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maz.jecky.3's picture
maz.jecky.3 18. December 2014 - 6:23

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antonovici's picture
antonovici 21. December 2014 - 12:28

There are many architects that are better at new wrapping than at building a construction from scratch. It takes major talent in order to achieve a project like this and usually the materials are used from a local company in order to support the economy of a community too. It is important to learn as much as you can about the way in which the building has initially build in order to add new things to it.

billmarket17's picture
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billmarket17's picture
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