Parish Centre in Neuried

In its uniform brick attire, the new parish centre is a powerful large-scale sculpture en- livened by the play of light and shade. Beside a giant cross in preoxidized steel, the broad portal opens on to a courtyard, laid out about which are the church itself and the presbytery as well as a parish and youth centre. The sculptural overall form stands out amid the heterogeneous surrounding housing. Internally, the complex offers a sequence of quiet, sheltered spaces with compelling proportions, varied heights and effective daylight control. The inner skin enclosing the church space itself is like a container set within the building, with splayed white limewashed walls and ceiling. The sculptural form incorporates two outsize openings through which diffuse daylight streams, seeming to dissolve the boundaries of space and representing a central feature of the spatial experience. The white walls and ceiling are free of any other elements – apart from the tabernacle. Loudspeaker installations are integrated in the pews, and artificial light fittings in the daylight openings. The oak pews and the untreated oak floor boarding have a restrained presence. The liturgical centre is formed by the concrete altar island by the artist Rudolf Bott. In the ancillary spaces, the dominant material is the bush-hammered concrete of the load-bearing structure. All wooden elements, like fittings, doors and the wall cladding, are in oak, which is partly black. The exposed concrete surfaces in the building have a bush-hammered finish. The mechanical hammering process, in which the stone aggregate is chipped open, evens out differences between areas, lending the surface a continuous, almost velvety consistency that has an authentic appearance when viewed up close. The arrises are ­boasted, since they could not be ­bush-hammered without damaging them. As a result, the surfaces have a fine edge that heightens the craft-like appearance even further.
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