Kuehn Malvezzi installation represents multi-faith prayer house

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Kuehn Malvezzi's House of One installation represents a house of prayer for three religions

Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015: An installation by the German firm Kuehn Malvezzi portrays its design for a religious building in Berlin that would contain a synagogue, church and mosque – all under one roof.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
The House of One installation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial includes a series of polystyrene forms

The House of One would serve as a place of prayer and learning for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as secular communities.

The proposed site for the competition-winning design is the Petriplatz in the heart of Berlin, where a historic church once stood.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
The polystyrene forms in the Biennial installation represent parts of the House of One building proposed by the architects for a site in Berlin

A large-scale, abstract model of the project in now on view at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which opened 3 October and runs to 3 January 2016.

"The House of One's potential lies in the simultaneity of intimacy and foreignness, the similarities and differences between the three Abrahamic religions," said Kuehn Malvezzi.

The Biennial installation "exposes the visitor to this potential in a specific spatial setting, where three models are experienced in one installation," added the firm.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
A render showing the competition-winning design for the House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi

The installation – on view in a gallery inside the Chicago Cultural Center – consists of three blocks encircling a tall, cylindrical form topped with a sphere. The all-white forms are made of styrofoam.

"The Model of Spaces is a sculpture that displays the interior spaces of the House of One as a negative volume at a 1:8 scale," explained the firm.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
The House of One is designed to house a synagogue, mosque and church in one building

The installation was produced in collaboration with artists Armin Linke and Marko Lulić.

Photographs by Linke are displayed on walls around the model and show liturgic gestures of a rabbi, a priest and an imam in their respective sacred spaces. Linke's collection is called Model of Gestures.

Marko created a performance piece related to the project titled Model of Relations, which explores "the simultaneity of intimacy and foreignness of the three religions". A recording of the performance is played on a screen in the gallery.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
As well as religious prayer spaces, The House of One would contain common areas and public spaces

Kuehn Malvezzi's concept for the House of One is the result of a 2012 international competition organised by Petriplatz Prayer and Teaching Hall, a nonprofit association made up of leaders from multiple religious communities.

The firm's proposal won the competition, and money is now being raised to construct the building.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
All of the House of One's spaces would be arranged around a central, domed meeting hall

The design calls for a brick structure that would be free of religious symbolism on the exterior.

"The spatial experience within, however, forms a contrast with its outer perception," said the firm. "The internal organisation of the building frees itself from the overall form. It resembles a city within the city."

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
Kuehn Malvezzi's plans for the multi-faith House of One building also include a-religious spaces designed for contemplation

The synagogue, church and mosque would be distinct volumes within the building, all grouped around a main hall with a domed roof.

"The central square operates both as interstitial void and as a space of encounter that expands the urban realm of Berlin into the building," said the firm.

"In a spatial sense, the House of One enables the three monotheistic religions – related to one another, but also estranged – to engage with each other and with the secular urban communities," the firm added.

House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
Kuehn Malvezzi is currently trying to raise funds to build the multi-faith building in Petriplatz

Based in Berlin, Kuehn Malvezzi was founded in 2001 by architects Simona Malvezzi, Wilfried Kuehn and Johannes Kuehn. The firm's main focus is public spaces and exhibitions.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial – described by curators Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima as a "site of experimentation" – features work by more than 100 designers around the world. The three-month-long event includes installations, exhibitions and events.

Other installations on view include a prototype for low-cost housing by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, a rock sculpture built by a robot, and a latticed archway by SO-IL.

Photography by Tom Harris.


House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
Concept elevation for House of One
House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
Concept elevation for House of One
House of One by Kuehn Malvezzi
Floor plan – click for larger image