Construction of Ancillary Buildings: The Medieval Village Church Alt-Tempelhof (Berlin)

One major challenge for architects is to combine new design elements into a structure while preserving the original structure or overall integrity of a historic site. Fortunately, there are many excellent examples and sometimes a simple or modest solution can be the most interesting.

A listed church dating from the 13th century in Alt-Tempelhof in Berlin is one of the largest and oldest medieval churches in Berlin. Over time, the church structure has been altered along with the cemetery which accompanies it. Also included on the site are three ponds and an important weir system that still runs and supplies water today.

A recent brief given to Jan Rösler Architects involved the general renovation of the church’s main worship hall, but the main task was a three-fold design to build a bathroom facility, a storage unit for gardening equipment, and a place to compost green clippings. The result, inconspicuously hidden among the trees in the wooded cemetery, is both simple and beautiful.

The outcome to this three-fold challenge was dividing each function into a structure of 3 cubic metres. All three are clad in the same raw timber and connected by a platform built on concrete footings and constructed out of the same timber as the cube structures. The result are three modest structures which successfully integrate three separate functions in a seamless way, while blending harmoniously into the green wooded background. The design remains as elegant as it is practical.

Photo credits: Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from Jan Rösler Architects.


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