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The Jewish Cultural Centre

Duisburg, Germany, 1996-2000

The Jewish Community Centre in Duisburg reflects in its form the complexity of the program and the particularity of the urban situation.

The J.C.C is first of all a place of meetings and celebrations of the local Jewish community. But it is more than that. It provides various additional services to its congregation, like, evening classes for children and adults, place for religious services in an adjacent small Synagogue, performances and lectures in the large Multipurpose Hall, accommodation in two apartments for visitors and guests of the community, housekeeper apartment and large kitchen adjacent to the Multipurpose Hall but serving also out door gatherings.

The plan of the J.C.C is very much the result of the programme demands but as well the need to respect the site character, its buildings modest scale and simple materials.

This respect however in no way was a limitation on the architectural expression; it was more of a point of departure.

To the south, the building is attached to the existing houses and follows their scale. It assumes however another, much more monumental role, when facing the open space of the park. This metamorphose, from a local vernacular set-up, to a public posture, defines the very character of the building. It reflects also on the twin nature of the Jewish Community Center. Private, intimate, for its congregation and public institutional when addressing the society at large.

The J.C.C provides architectural culmination to the street row of houses but opens in grand gesture to the park. Its gate kind of colonnade allows as if to cross the building even if it is practically closed. That was after all the main idea of the form of the Greek temple.

Symbolically many different interpretations can be put forward but no one is more relevant that the other, or more important than the functionally of the building and its relationship to the surrounding and respond to the local conditions.

Client:
Jewish Community Duisburg-Mülheim-Oberhausen

Area:
2.650 m²

Construction:
brick and concrete construction, exposed concrete, plaster, wood windows, metal and glass for entrance hall, Jerusalem stone for the interior of the synagogue and the entrance hall floor, corrugated metal for balustrades.

Partners & advisors

Project management:
Prof. Inken Baller, Architect, Berlin

Technical engineer:
Kalinowski + Kappe, Ingenieure

Collaborators:
Petra Korff
Laurence Nash