St. Trinitatis Catholic Parish Church
Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017.
Third place at the VI Edition of the International Prize for Sacred Architecture.
The church christening on 9 May 2015 ends the odyssey of the Leipzig parish community that has lasted over seventy years. With the construction of the new church, St. Trinitas has returned to the centre of the city. For us as architects it was important to develop the new parish church out of the organism of the surrounding city. It obtains its presence through its high church building structure and church tower, but most of all through the inviting openness of the parish courtyard. With its building envelope made of masoned Rochlitz porphyry, the structure acknowledges its region and tradition.
The first Leipzig Trinitatis church was built in the direct vicinity of the Old Town in 1847. The structure was heavily damaged during World War II and merely the external walls and church tower remained. The ruins were blasted in 1954 with the promise of a new beginning for the community in a larger church. However, the building permit was then withdrawn by the SED (Socialist Unity Party) government and the construction site was cleared by the city administration. After some interim solutions, the plans for a second Trinitatis church were not picked up again until the end of the 1970s. The community was assigned a plot of land in a inconvenient location outside of the Leipzig city centre for the new building (according to the plans of the Bauakademie der DDR [Building Academy of the German Democratic Republic]). An unremarkable functional building was created there under the direction of Udo Schultz by 1982 but due to poor foundation conditions it was already demonstrating significant structural defects just a few years later.
The community did not want to bear the costs for the cost-intensive repairs, particularly because they wanted to return to the city centre. In 2008 the community entered into negotiations with the city of Leipzig regarding a potential new construction site. Our 2009 competition entry: The task was to define a site in a prominent location between the dominating skyline feature of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and the square at Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz that respectfully integrates into its surroundings and forms a clearly distinguishable edge along the urban square as well as the city centre ring. The undercut on the ground floor is inspired by the motif of the Leipzig passage system and leads from the city centre to the parish courtyard. The silhouettes of the church and town hall define a gateway for urban development along the rising topography of the Martin-Luther-Ring. It marks the beginning of the further development of the neighbouring urban area with the S-Bahn rapid transit station at Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz, the future Monument to Freedom and Unity and the Nonnenmühlgasse area. The structure is now being put up with the ‘pouring’ of the triangular plot of land and the concreting of the poles of the church interior and church tower on opposite sides. The parish courtyard is ‘cut into’ the area between the two highpoints to create a new central meeting location. With its interior height of 14.50 metres, the church hall forms the framework for a transcendent spatial experience. Indirect daylight coming through the large 22-metre-high skylight and falling upon the rear wall of the altar draws focus to the chancel.