Structure Inserted in St Mary's Church in Müncheberg

Situated on a small hill, the Church of St Mary is a salient feature of the small town of Müncheberg, 30 km east of Berlin. Dating back to a 13th-century Cistercian foundation, the church underwent alterations between 1817 and 1829 to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Between 1945 and 1991, it stood in ruins, without its roof and vaulting. With its reconstruction as an ecclesiastical building that also incorporates a municipal library, it has now regained its proper significance as a centre of spiritual and cultural life. A four-storey structure was inserted within the old walls to accommodate an assembly hall, the library, offices and ancillary spaces. Access to the various levels is via a straight-flight staircase between the new structure and the existing nave wall. The free-standing belfry is echoed by the new lift tower. The primary structure of the new volume consists of a rigid steel frame that is completely independent of the historical outer walls of the church. Bracing is provided by the diagonal tie elements of the bookshelves and by the concrete walls of the sanitary cells on the ground floor. The bays of the steel structure are filled with glass panels over the full storey height. Above balustrade level, sliding elements allow the glazing to be opened on three sides. Over the glazing, ash louvres are fixed to the steel framing. Depending on the lighting, they make the inserted structure seem light and translucent or lend it the appearance of a monolithic volume.
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