Towards the Opening of the House of One

A church, a mosque and a synagogue in one building in the heart of Berlin

January 24th, 2019
Tina Bitouni, News from Berlin
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A big ceremony with many representatives from the world of culture, politics, economy and reli-gion was held in the middle of January 2019 in the pavilion of the House of One in the center of Berlin on Petriplatz. The project of the House of One aspires to provide a building for worship-pers of the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions that have shaped European culture: Christiani-ty, Islam and Judaism.

Under one roof there will be a church, a synagogue and a mosque in an attempt to promote inter-religious understanding, intercultural exchange and social reconciliation and coexistence. According to members of the Board of Trustees and of the Presidium, the House of One does not address only to Christians, Jews and Muslims but invites atheist, religious seekers and other religion to engage in dialogue.

The event of the previous week was a farewell ceremonial act until the structural completion of the construction of the building.  The foundation stone and its official opening is set for the 14th of April in 2020. This date marks the anniversary of the premiere of Lessings drama “Nathan the Wise”. On the 14th of April 1783 in Döbbelinsches Theater, “Nathan der Weise” premiered on stage after it was turned into a theatrical play. Originally written in pamphlets by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, this play consists of a fond plea for tolerance and understanding among a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim in Jerusalem during the medieval Crusades.

For the final opening and the completion of the construction of the House of One around 70 concrete piers over 30 metres long have to be drilled into the ground in order to stabilise it permanently. While the costs amounts to approximately 43.5 million euros. After the architecture competition was over in 2012, the winner Wilfried Kuehn was put in charge of designing and implementing the very challenging idea of combining three different architectural types in one. His plan is to build three separate holy rooms of the same size but of different shape around a central hall. The spatial environment will be shaped following the needs of each religion. Interestingly, according to Kuehn these three different religions share a lot of  similar architectural typologies, a telling example of their past contiguity. From a historical point of view, in the past the practitioners of the three abrahamic religions had used the same building for different religious purposes; a church would convert into a mosque or a mosque into a synagogue. However, the challenge of the project of the House of the One in Berlin lies in the simultaneous coexistence of the three different religions. The aspiration, despite seen as overambitious, especially when read through the prism of the intensifying fundamental frictions of our era, elevates Berlin to the model of a European multicultural city.


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