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SACRED SOIL: THE RAMMED-EARTH RECONCILIATION CHAPEL IN BERLIN
Posted By Gretchen On March 27, 2006 @ 10:30 pm In Architecture | No Comments
Risen literally from the dust of a divided Berlin, the Chapel of Reconciliation  stands as one of the most compelling examples of contemporary rammed-earth  architecture I’ve seen in a long time. Located on a site that had once been a deadly no-man’s-land, the Chapel is Berlin’s first public building, and sole church, constructed of load-bearing earth.
The minimalist oval building, designed by Berlin architects Rudolf Reitermann and Peter Sassenroth, was completed in 2000 and consists of a monumental rammed-earth  core structure flanked with a translucent facade of wooden louvers .
While the warm aesthetics of the building and its use of sustainable natural methods should be enough to please any fan of modern green architecture, what’s perhaps more moving is how these aspects have been used to serve a symbolic and spiritual purpose for its parishioners. Not only is the Chapel sited on the foundation of its pre-war predecessor, but also within its thick clay walls are embedded the remains of the former Church of Reconciliation which was demolished  by the GDR  in 1985 (citing “security measures” due to its location between Soviet watchtowers).
In comparison to the gleaming glass and commercial neon that characterizes the majority of Berlin’s in-fill  construction since reunification, its uplifting to see a structure like the Reconciliation Chapel paying such quiet homage to its sober history while also presenting a fresh (green) face forward to the future.
Those who are curious may wish to read a complete and epic history of the Reconciliation Parish as narrated here .
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 Chapel of Reconciliation: http://www.kapelle-versoehnung.de/bin/englisch/index.php
 rammed-earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rammed-earth_construction
 rammed-earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rammed_earth
 Church of Reconciliation which was demolished: http://www.kirche-versoehnung.de/englisch/history%20e.htm
 GDR: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GDR
 Berlin’s in-fill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potsdamer_Platz
 here: http://gaiapolis.hit.bg/chapel.html
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