Martin Luther Church by Coop Himmelb(l)au


Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Steel whirlpools spiral into skylights in the roof of a church in Austria by architects Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

The swirling roof, which was manufactured in a shipyard, rests like a table-top upon four steel columns over the prayer room of the Martin Luther Church.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Daylight penetrates the room’s stucco-covered ceiling through the circular voids, as well as through a street-facing facade of projecting glass triangles.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Through glass doors at the rear of the prayer room is a church hall used by the local community, while a sacristy, pastor's office and toilets are situated alongside both spaces.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

A 20 metre-high steel bell-tower soars up into the sky in front of the building's entrance.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Other buildings by Austrian architects Coop Himmelb(l)au include a tower covered in a folded metal skin and an energy-generating canopy over a passageway - see all our stories about Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Photography is by Duccio Malagamba.

Here's a more detailed description from Coop Himmelb(l)au:

Martin Luther Church Hainburg, Austria

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Click above for larger image

Architectural Concept

In less than a year a protestant church together with a sanctuary, a church hall and supplementary spaces was built in the centre of the Lower Austrian town Hainburg, at the site of a predecessor church that doesn’t exist anymore since the 17th century.

The shape of the building is derived from that of a huge “table”, with its entire roof construction resting on the legs of the “table” – four steel columns. Another key element is the ceiling of the prayer room: its design language has been developed from the shape of the curved roof of a neighboring Romanesque ossuary – the geometry of this century-old building is translated into a form, in line with the times, via today’s digital instruments.

The play with light and transparency has a special place in this project. The light comes from above: three large winding openings in the roof guide it into the interior. The correlation of the number Three to the concept of Trinity in the Christian theology can be interpreted as a “deliberate coincidence”.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

The church interior itself is not only a place of mysticism and quietude – as an antithesis of our rather fast and media-dominated times – but also an open space for the community.

The sanctuary gives access to the glass-covered children’s corner, illuminated by daylight, which accomodates also the baptistery. The actual community hall is situated behind it: folding doors on the entire length of the space between the two main chambers allow for combining them to one continuous spatial sequence. A folded glass façade on the opposite side opens the space towards the street.

A third building element, a longitudinal slab building along a small side alley, flanks both main spaces and comprises the sacristy, the pastor’s office, a small kitchen and other ancillary rooms. A handicapped accessible ramp between the three building components accesses the church garden on higher ground.

The sculptural bell tower at the forecourt constitutes the fourth element of the building ensemble.

Like other projects of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU the roof elements of the church building were assembled in a shipyard. The implementation of the intricate geometries required specific technologies of metal-processing and manufacturing only available in shipbuilding industry. The reference to shipbuilding is at the same time also reminiscent of Le Corbusier who served as an important role model, not least because of his La Tourette monastery.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Technical Description

Due to its shape with three skylights the roof of the Martin Luther Church in Hainburg was designed as a self-supporting steel construction with a stucco ceiling. The structure was assembled in a wharf at the Baltic Sea. The exterior skin is made of 8 mm thick three-dimensionally curved steel plates welded on a frame construction. In turn, this structure of steel plates and frame sits on a girder grid. The compound of grid, frame and steel skin transfers the total load of the roof (23 tons) on four steel columns which are based on the solid concrete walls of the prayer room.

The roof construction was delivered in four separate parts to Hainburg, assembled and welded on site. There, the coating of the whole structure was finished and mounted with a crane in the designated position on the shell construction of the prayer room.

On the interior ceiling the suspended frame structure was covered in several layers of steel fabric and rush matting as carrier layer for the cladding of the stucco ceiling, whose geometry follows the three-dimensionally curved shape of the roof with the skylights.

The free-form bell tower of the Martin Luther Church was also manufactured, by means of shipbuilding technology, as a vertical self-supporting steel structure with wall thickness between 8 and 16 millimeter, only braced by horizontal frames. The 20 meter high tower weighing 8 tons is welded rigidly to a steel element encased in the concrete foundations.

Martin Luther Church Hainburg by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Wolf D. Prix / W. Dreibholz & Partner ZT GmbH
Design Principal: Wolf D. Prix
Project Architect: Martin Mostböck
Design Architect: Sophie-Charlotte Grell
Project Team: Steven Baites, Daniel Bolojan, Victoria Coaloa, Volker Kilian, Martin Neumann, Martin Jelinek

Client: Association „Freunde der Evangelischen Kirche in Hainburg/Donau”, Austria
User: Evangelische Pfarrgemeinde A.B. Bruck a.d. Leitha – Hainburg/Donau, Austria
Structural engineering: Bollinger Grohmann Schneider ZT GmbH, Vienna, Austria
Construction survey: Spirk & Partner ZT GmbH, Vienna, Austria

Main works / finishing: Markus Haderer Baubetrieb Ges.m.b.H, Hainburg/Donau, Austria
Steel construction (roof/ tower): OSTSEESTAAL GmbH, Stralsund, Germany
Steel Construction (façade): Metallbau Eybel, Wolfsthal, Austria
Fibre cement cladding: Eternit-Werke Ludwig Hatschek AG, Vöcklabruck, Österreich SFK GmbH, Kirchham, Austria
Altar: Idee & Design, Stainz, Austria

Project data
Site area: 420 m²
Sanctuary for 50 people, community space und ancillary rooms
Total gross floor area: 289 m²
Height (slab building / community space): 3,5 m
Height sanctuary: 6 m
Height roof: 10 m
Length: 25 m
Width: 10-17 m
Height bell tower: 20 m

Start of Planning: 2008
Start of Construction: 08/2010
Opening: 04/2011

  • PeeWeen

    AAwesome!! looks like a bullet of god went through that roof!!

  • Sweet

    This bowl of whipped cream is missing a cherry on top

    • Tomm

      cream-himmelblau indeed

  • Very Cool – although I feel as though the alter might be a little over the top and distracting.

  • schlubbor

    from the first picture it looked promising. but in the end it really was just a roof.

  • Doug C.

    The roof is a seriously beautiful sculptural element. It seems regrettable that the altar, panel behind and structural elements do not have the same degree of quietude or beauty.

  • felix

    When looking at the first picture one would expect some really dramatic spaces. Unfortunately the interior reveals hardly any spacial qualities and remains as dull as a regular staff cafeteria underneath all that hot and bothered mess above.
    What on earth happened here?

  • Monic

    So, all that cake-thing-like resting in four ugly columns…. maybe they got lazy when they got there?. Has anyone ever heard any argument as silly as this one? "its design language has been developed from the shape of the curved roof of a neighboring Romanesque ossuary". If you like doing cakes, just state it like that. But please, don´t pretend as we are all mental retardeds.

  • nap

    they are not architects. merely form-makers and not even good forms. beyond the roof, the spaces are not only generic but generic-bad. they were better off talking and writing about architecture instead of getting their hands on it.

  • Jesus

    I instructed them to design the altar like that.

  • captures the spirit of gothic architecture in a modern way.

  • zee

    Some elements are powerful in themselves (the light wells, the bell tower/sculpture on the front plaza, etc.), but taken in its entirely the project is a mishmash of things that don't seem to talk to one another.

    Also hard to tell what the actual design intent is.

  • its a bit too much isn't it ?!

  • Florian

    comon guys, this is kind of funny, but well. … Maybe the church needs Gymics now to woo people inside. But you know, kind of weird mixture. Like Sweet" s says, looks like a Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte where someone through some functions in. Kind of Disneyland and so not worldclass

  • marcos

    nice hat!

  • Haya

    well, I like the bell tower it is much better then the hall church and it dosnt really mach with it because the bell tower is so linear and heavy slim, dynamic ,in contrast with the chirch and it’s mass cream roof ..and please do not commpare it with le corbusie’s cause his was one spirit and dos’nt contain two languages.. and also the interior spaces are not spirtual enough there is somthing missing, eventhough the light exists, but it exists like spots of light and dos’nt make it’s spirtual role…

  • Haya

    I think there is a big contrast between the tower bell and the church mass they are two diffrents languages, the first one is linear ,dynamic heavy, buth the roof church is not related to it it looks like a huge hat covering a table, architecture is not just about a good concept it should provide a form and function,and in my opinion the hat form had failed and it's function to brings light is not working as it supose to because it has to be spirtual ..and the light inside is just forming spots…

  • accesskb

    the potential of a spritual experience through the lightwells is certainly lost. The designers need to study Japanese architecture from the Endo period. Modulation, controlling and careful play of light is lost when the entire interior is washed with even light. Beauty is only revealed in the presence of contrasting elements. Bright light with dark shadows in this case would've saved this project.

  • Organic = geometric. Is it architects or journalists that keep making this mistake? If only we could see the “under construction” images of these types of forms then architects would cease such nonsensical, costly, attention seeking pursuits. Next time you are inside a Gehry building I encourage you to look up instead of obsessing over the form from the outside.