Zeller & Moye, working alongside artist Albert Weis, have been selected to design the new Martin Luther Memorial in Berlin. The competition, initiated by the Protestant Church of Berlin and the Berlin City Administration, asked entrants to design a memorial to Luther in central Berlin at the former Neuer Markt next to the St. Marienkirche—in the same location as a previous memorial to Martin Luther that was constructed in 1895 and destroyed in the Second World War. The brief also required designers to incorporate the existing statue of Martin Luther that survived from the earlier memorial.
In response to this brief, Zeller & Moye has envisaged a memorial based on the mirroring of the 1895 memorial: a negative form of the original plinth is carved into the ground in medium-gray concrete, while the statue of Luther is joined by a second, slightly abstracted replica, cast in aluminium with a mirrored finish.
This inversion of the original memorial was intended by Zeller & Moye to subvert the traditional memorial typology, promoting 21st century values of dialog and communication over the 19th century values of veneration. Standing on small plinths within the hollowed-out memorial space, the two statues appear from a distance to be standing on the street. "In contrast to the memorial of the 19th century that justified its importance through an elevation that rises above the level of the citizens," explains Zeller & Moye's press release, "the new memorial remains on ground level inviting pedestrians to a dialog."
This dynamic is reinforced by the inclusion of the replica statue, which faces the original statue in a gesture of communication. In this way, say the architects, "the one-directional heroicizing of the original Luther figure is replaced by a new dialogic and reflexive approach symbolizing the communicative society of the 21st century."
The floor of the memorial also features 10,000 LED lights which will be used to communicate messages to passers-by in the form of inspiring quotes from 21st century role models. Currently three quotes are planned:
- "Nicht in der Flucht der Gedanken, allein in der Tat ist die Freiheit." (Not in the escape of thoughts, alone in doing is freedom.) - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- "Ungerechtigkeit an irgendeinem Ort bedroht die Gerechtigkeit an jedem anderen." (Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.) - Martin Luther King
- "Der alte Grundsatz Auge um Auge macht schließlich alle blind." (That old law about an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.) - Martin Luther King
"Our design is an invitation for the city dweller to engage with the new space," explains Christoph Zeller of Zeller & Moye. "Visitors can seek a dialogue with the figures; can rest on the integrated seating; or in passing, receive a message delivered by the light field that may accompany them through the whole day."
Project Name: Luther Memorial Berlin
Location: St. Marienkirche, Karl Liebknecht Strasse, Berlin, Germany
Client: Evangelischer Kirchenkreis Berlin Stadtmitte (Protestant Church of Berlin) and Bezirksamt Berlin-Mitte (Berlin City Administration)
Design: Zeller & Moye (Architects) and Albert Weis (Artist)
Area: 170 m2
Status: 1st Prize in the international competition ‘Luther-Denkmal 2017'