DDF 03 - 24 - 2010

The Church of the Sacred Heart in Munich, Germany caught my attention because it deals with one of the same issues as my current studio project; how to create a religious facility that is welcoming, rather than intimidating like many traditional churches. As can be seen in the first drawing, the front façade of the church is actually a set of two giant doors. They essentially eliminate the front wall when opened. While this is an interesting idea, I don’t think that the implementation was as successful as it could have been. First of all, Munich is not an ideal climate for an open air church, much of the year is rather cool with rain being a constant problem, I can imagine that the doors are not open on many Sundays of the year. The location and site planning of the church is the another problem. The giant front façade doors open to a large concrete hardscape. When I first read about the church previous to leaving on World Tour, I envisioned the doors opening out to a grand view or at least some designed space rather than just a flat surface immediately surrounded by roads and other buildings. The idea of the doors was to make the church feel more welcoming than traditional churches, however, I don’t believe that this goal was achieved to its fullest potential. As soon as you look in through the open door façade, you see another wall. I just can’t understand how the expense and design energy of the door system can be justified when removal of the front wall leads to yet another wall. How is that anymore welcoming than just having a standard wall to begin with? While I disagree with this design decision to have a wall immediately following the open doors, the doors do make a powerful statement when opened, similar to arms outreaching to bring people in. Also, the sides of the church, as can be seen in second drawing, vary in transparency from clear to opaque, each panel slightly more opaque as it nears the altar side of the church. I believe that this is to show the change from a public space to a private, more sacred space. In this aspect, the design of the church seems to be successful but more could have been done on the interior to further this idea. The church had many good concepts, but because of a poor site and multiple design issues, it failed to make the most of these ideas.

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