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Conversion of the Church of Our Lady in Dortmund into a Columbarium

2008 – 2011

At the forefront of our considerations in this project was the question of how to create an appropriate setting for the rituals associated with urn burial while doing justice to the existing church interior.
The proposal of arranging burial urns exclusively across the surface of the church floor is a simple yet successful response to these two chief concerns. The cemetery-like layout of the field of urns summons an analogy with traditional burials in the ground. Positioning the urn on the floor echoes the ritual of burial in the earth by which the corpse is returned to the earth, symbolising the cycle of life and death.
At the same time, because the urns are installed only 80 cm above the floor, the existing church interior can unfold its full spatial dimensions and atmosphere as the dominant impression.
Constructional bronze is suggested as material for the urn holders and pedestals. The slight corrosion displayed by this material underscores the earth-bound quality of the installation. Various types of urn holders allow for individualised decoration of the burial place with flowers, pictures, candles or engravings.

Award for Exemplary Buildings in Nordrhein-Westfalen 2015
Honourable Mention – Westfälischer Preis für Baukultur

»Best Buildings Award 2014«

Limited realisation competition 1st prize 2008
Team Johannes Thoma, Bettina Schriewer, Christian Stöckert, Augustinus Clüsener

Client Katholische Kirchengemeinden Östliches Ruhrgebiet, Dortmund

Start of planning – completion 2008 – 2011

For performance phases 1 – 7, künstlerische Oberleitung

Total costs €4.0m

Usable floor area 1,350 sqm

Design team Thomas Schmidt, Charlotte Stein (project management), Anja Mathesius, Jens Achtermann | Construction management Dirk Richter (site supervision), Sabine Zoske, Yvonne Stanko, Daniel Pleikies, Marcus Ebener, Manuela Jochheim

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