HAMBURG, Germany — The buzz around brick is that it can be used for cladding and facades with just as much finesse and grace as any other material. It may take some extreme examples of that to illustrate, but we’re in luck because we can reference architect Wandel Lorch’s fascinating 2015 work on the Ecumenical Forum, a chapel in HafenCity whose walls bulge and recede across the facade.
The studio told ArchDaily:
The Ecumenical Forum is a sacred and a residential and office building. The only chapel in the HafenCity had been created from the association of 19 Christian denominations. The Forum combines two different building typologies: The town house with its perimeter block development incorporated in the urban context and the sacred building with sculptural embossment setting urban accents.
In the tradition of Hamburg architects such as Fritz Höger’s Chile House a contemporary expressive large-scale shape has been achieved with the offset of red clinker bricks according to the concept of a “red” Hamburg. The embossed facade creates a changing play of shadows. Clinker bricks with embossed individual themes and symbols are used in the chapel./ The Ecumenical Forum has received the HafenCity environmental pre-certificate in Gold for excellent energy efficiency using geothermal and solar energy.
The building’s three sculptural embossments highlight the religious key aspects of chapel and City convent displayed in the facade as concave shapes with the typical attributes of Christian churches: cross and bell. The concave form of the chapel’s apsis is facing towards the courtyard. The entrance to the chapel is located at the intersection of Shanghaiallee and Steinschanze.
The public facilities on the ground floor (chapel, cafe, info centre and function room) are linked with each other and can be flexibly used. The offices on the 1st and 2nd floor are designed as fIexibly separable combi-offices with 15 m depth as steel skeleton structure. The upper residential floors and the office floors are either lettable church-related or freely. Common rooms and links of both staircases encourage Christian living. The 6th floor houses the City convent and guest area. The roof terrace can be reached barrier-free and is available to residents and for events.
Do you love or loathe this example of contemporary brick architecture? Let us know in the comments.