Jewish Community Center Mainz

The volume of the building is situated parallel to the streets and its facades are in line with the existing neighboring buildings, thus creating a contained street space. The use of the urban figure of the perimeter block pattern for the building, highly unusual for religious buildings, also questions the position of sacrality within the urban context.
By orienting the part of the building housing the synagogue towards the East two squares or open spaces are created: An internal garden for the community offering room for recreation and celebration and a public square in front of the main entrance oriented towards the city center and offering an open space to the neighborhood within a densely built-up urban fabric. As the program for the synagogue and community center demands its main functions to be lo- cated on ground floor, the building rises to significant heights for reasons of functional or spatial quality, otherwise remaining low. Thus a volume is shaped that continiously alternates between high and low points, thereby formulat- ing an urbanistic response to its context. The precise articulation of this profile is informed by the theme of writing and its relationship to space.

In its history Judaism has never developed a strong tradition of building. Also on the level of individual words and letters, an object quality is expressed in the writings. Qadushah) is the Hebrew word for raising or blessing, whose five characters in an abstracted way articulate(
קדושה the profile of the building. Multiple perspectives with the windows being their vanishing points emerge within the building’s facade. This spatial quality is enhanced by the transparent green glazing of the ceramic tiles, which reflects the shifting light conditions of its surroundings and displays a wide array of hues and shades.

The organization of a synagogue space is usually characterized by a certain inner contradiction: Synagogues are on one hand oriented and directed towards East or Jerusalem. On the other hand, as the reading of the Torah is performed from a central position in space and from the midst of the community, emphasis lies on a centralized space. This inherent contradiction is spatially resolved by a horn- like roof that distinctly orients the space towards the East, but bringing the light right into the center of the space, falling exactly onto the position from where the Bible is read. The interior surfaces of the synagogue are shaped by densely packed Hebrew letters forming a mosaic-like relief, though creating no semantic content. ‘Piyutim’ (religious poetry) written by the rabbis of Mainz from the 10th and 11th century are carved into the surfaces of the synagogue. Furthermore, the Jewish community center houses office spaces, school rooms and two apartments as well as the multipurpose space of the community. This multipurpose space represents the social and cultural heart of the community and will be used for internal purposes as well as for public events for and by the whole city.

Type: Cultural - Cultural Center
Location: Mainz, Germany
Building status: built in 2010
Building area: 2500 m2
Budget total: 8250000 USD
A project by: Manuel Herz Architects, Architecture

Photo Gallery of Jewish Community Center Mainz


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