Architects: Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch
Location: Dresden, Germany
Design Team: Kuno Fontaine, Christoph Kratzsch, Dirk Lang, Lukas Petrikoff, Tobias Wagner
Plot Area: 2,690 sqm
Covered Area: 1,286 sqm
Photographs: Norbert Miguletz
Dresden is characterised by two destructions: Gottfried Semper´s synagogue in the “Reichskristallnacht” on 9th of november 1938 and the entire historical city on 13th and 14th february 1945 by allied bombings. The destructions are historically linked. Yet the architectural consequences couldn`t be more different. On the one hand Dresden reproduces the historical monuments (like the Frauenkirche as the most emblematic reconstruction), establishing a false continuity and a problematic pretension of architectural stability. On the other hand the new synagogue represents an attempt which investigates the conflict between stability and fragility, between the permanent and the temporary, the temple and the tabernacle.
Inserted in the sloped topography of the site a central courtyard acts as a connecting element between the various uses of the synagogue and the community centre. The physical coherence is maintained by the use of a continious material (precast concrete stones with sand aggregates). Each building however has a character of its own.: The synagogue is a concentrated place of worship and meditation, its structure relating to the Elbe River and becoming part of the Dresden skyline. The community centre refers to the urban fabric and creates a new entrance situation to the centre of the city.
Exploring the implications of stabiliy and fragility the architecture of the synagogue is characterized by a material dualism: a monolithic structure of precast concrete stones and an interior structure of metallic textile . The twisting stone structure of the synagogue follows the geometry of the site and the requirement of an orientation towards the east. The complex, curvilinear volume is based on a simple, gradual shift of 41 orthogonal layers, formed by elements of 120x60x60 cm.
In contrast to the monolithic structure, the interior of the synagogue is framed by a smooth metallic textile. Suspended from a concrete ceiling grid it constitutes the basic space of worship. The brass textile,developped with a clothing manufacturer, provides a specific auratic light. Wooden furniture of differing size characterises the interiror of the „tent“: a balcony, pews, the bima( a lectern) and the Torah shrine in the east. The position of the central religious elements refers and highlights the spatial conflict of the synagogue: a both longitudinal and central space.