Synagogue in Munich

Situated at the heart of Munich, the Jewish Centre is surrounded by a series of public open spaces, paths and passageways, which serve to integrate the ensemble into the surrounding urban fabric. The synagogue, the most important of the three structures that go to make up this complex, opens on to a public square to the east. On its other faces, a balancing counterweight is formed by the Jewish Museum and the community centre. The closed, stone-clad base of the synagogue, which makes reference to the enduring nature of the Temple of Solomon, forms a protective enclosure for the prayer space. ­Rising above this is a finely articulated steel lantern structure. Enclosed in a casing of bronze mesh, the translucent multilayer skin is a remiscence of the first Israelite shrine, the tabernacle tent, which could be dismantled and transported from place to place. The powerful, rough-faced travertine slabs that lend the base a relief-like quality are thus boldly contrasted with the visually delicate skin of the lantern on top. This consists of a fabric-mesh outer layer; the inner sheet-steel load-bearing structure (the triangular pattern of which recalls the geometry of the Star of ­David); and an intermediate layer of glass with bronze cover strips. Access to the synagogue is via a foyer on the west face. Internally, the prayer space is finished with cedar wood and stone from Israel. A large gate protects the Torah shrine, which during the day receives natural light from above through roof glazing. The sun casts shadows of the ornamentation in the roof on to the wooden surfaces in the prayer space. From the foyer, a staircase leads down to the basement, which accommodates an everyday synagogue and the baths for ritual washings, as well as service and ancillary spaces. An underground corridor forms a weekday link to the Jewish community centre and contains a lighting installation with the names of the 4,500 Munich victims of the Shoah.
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