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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Autobahn Church in Siegerland, Wilnsdorf by schneider+schumacher

 
January 27th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: schneider+schumacher

In March 2009 schneider+schumacher won a competition run by the Förderverein Autobahnkirche Siegerland e.V, which was founded for the specific purpose of establishing an Autobahn church.

The initiative for this project came from Hanneliese and Hartmut Hering, after having visited an Autobahn church in south Germany. Just one glance at the map revealed that a place like this was lacking in the entire Siegerland area, and consequently also along the very busy A 45.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

  • Architects: schneider+schumacher
  • Project: Autobahn Church
  • Location: Siegerland, Wilnsdorf
  • Software used: Microstation and Rhino/Grasshopper
  • Client: Autobahnkirche Siegerland e.V., Herr Hartmut Hering, Frau Ute Pohl
  • Site: approx. 500m²
  • Gross floor area: approx. 240m²
  • Net floor area: approx. 240m²
  • Gross volume: approx. 2.050m³
  • Dimensions: Chapel, approx. 14,00 x 14,00m plus access bridge

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

  • Project architect: Michael Schumacher
  • Project manager: Hans Eschmann
  • Construction Manager: Kerstin Högel
  • Team: Michael Schumacher, Hans Eschmann, Kerstin Högel, Alexander Volz, Ragunath Vasudevan, Elmar Lorey, Jana Heidacker
  • Procurement documentation: Competition 03/2009
  • Structural engineers: B+G Ingenieure Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH
  • Building services: rpb ingenieure GmbH
  • Surveyor: Dipl.-Ing. J. Seelbach
  • Phases of Accomplishment: 1 – 8
  • Construction to completion: 03/2011 – 05/2013
Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

  • Companies / specialists (all contacs are in Germany):
    • Structural work (reinforced concrete): W. Hundhausen Bauunternehmung GmbH
    • Structural work (wood construction): Holzbau Amann GmbH
    • Windows: Metallbau Weinmann
    • Façade surface coating: Elacoat GmbH
    • Steel-staircase: Ernst Stahl- u. Treppenbau GmbH
    • Flooring: Obering. Kaspar König & Söhne, Hartmut Thielmann Baugeschäft
    • Interior wooden construction (plus furniture): Schreinerei Hein GmbH
    • Lighting: ERCO GmbH
    • Ventilation / Floor heating: Robin Sohn GmbH
    • Electrical work: Michael Pitthan GmbH
    • Doors: Metallbau Weinmann, Holzbau Amann GmbH
Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

The architects took on the project with the same empathy. Under the guidance of Michael Schumacher, it was designed in parallel with schneider+schumacher’s extension to the Städel Museum. The Christian-ecumenical church was realised thanks to numerous donations.

Building work began in March 2011, starting with the archaic sculptural concrete foundation slab, which forms the base for the timber-framed church above. The consecration and opening of this building, Germany’s 40th Autobahn church, took place on 26 May 2013.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Concept

“Autobahn service areas are places with an unmistakably direct message. Huge signs point to what goes on here: filling-up, eating, sleeping and maybe also, for a bit of distraction, a visit to a gaming mall. They are little cities, but without the subtle layers – no spaces for quiet contemplation or prayer, no beautiful spaces.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

The small Autobahn church offers an opportunity to fulfil these fundamental needs, and provides these in a place where they are arguably most lacking. For a building to make an impact in such surroundings, it needs to talk the same unmistakably direct language (at least on the exterior). Whether approached from afar from the Dortmund direction, or from the motorway service area, the church represents a built version of the motorway church signage. Even though its exterior form is abstract, it still signals in an immediate and direct way: ‘I am a church!’ ”
(Prof. Michael Schumacher, architect)

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Design

The three-dimensional translation of the church pictogram – a stylised white silhouette of a traditional village church – can be seen from both the motorway and the service station.

From close-up the church appears to grow out of the hillside and visitors enter it via a raised walkway leading to a covered entrance.

Once inside, contrary to the expectations raised by the exterior of the building, the design of the interior comes as a surprise. The inner dome opens up to the naturally lit area around the altar, illuminated only from above through the two church spires. The filigree wooden vaulting also displays a finely worked cross-ribbed structure.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Construction

The plan of the new Autobahn church consists of a square nave with two corner towers and an access bridge from the southwest. All the outer walls are formed in timber-framed construction, with laminated timber elements used for the roof structure and the towers.

The majority of the building components were constructed off site, allowing an optimised and shortened on-site assembly period, since the pre-constructed building elements had already been assembled off-site using a special connection system. The timber roof and wall elements are cavity-insulated. The inner and outer faces of the timber members are clad with panels of OSB. The walls of the bridge are halftimbered and the access bridge floor construction is clad on both sides with doublefaced OSB.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

The entire façade of the church and the connecting bridge was sprayed with white polyurethane damp-proofing material. This protects the outer surfaces of the wood from both the ingress of damp and wear and tear, and gives the church a homogenous appearance.

Timber inner dome

It all started with a two-dimensional plan, and from there it developed into a highly complex three-dimensional structure. Using parametric design techniques based on complex computer programs (Rhino, Grasshopper), schneider+schumacher’s Parametrik GbR team designed a finely detailed wooden ribbed structure that optimised both the material and the construction down to the last detail.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Once inside the vaulted entrance, the inner dome opens up to the altar. This area is naturally illuminated only via the church tower above. Within the predominantly square ground plan, semi-circular areas created by the inner dome at the edges allow the areas that lie outside the visitor’s line of vision to be used as a sacristy and as supplementary spaces e.g. for chair storage.

Interior furnishings

All relevant decisions regarding the interior furnishings of the church have been developed in close collaboration with the client.

They consist of the same material as the timber inner dome. Arranged in this manner, seating, lectern, kneelers and the candlestick form a unit.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Solemnly in the presbytery, podium, altar and the backlit cross are painted in a pure white to reflect sunlight and therewith seem dematerialized.

Optimising the construction

The inner dome consists of 66 vertical and horizontal semi-circular timber structural ribs, made up of 650 individual parts. The timber ribs are slotted into each other and secured in the slits cut into the panels, so the structure has not only rigidity but is also self-supporting.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

The floor needs anchoring with steel angles only at intermittent intervals. The CAD program was developed beyond its usual planning function into a 3D-printer software program. It was then used to transform the dimension data first calculated for the inner dome to provide a cutting pattern for all the dome parts. Taking account of standard dimensions of OSB boards, the 650 parts of the structural ribs were positioned so as to minimise wastage.

Optimising the lighting

At the start of the project a number of different lighting tests were carried out on a (1:25) timber model, as well as in the computer-controlled 3D model.

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

Image Courtesy © schneider+schumacher

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Categories: Church, Grasshopper, Microstation, Rhino

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