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Islamic Forum Penzberg

contributed by 128 miesvanderrohe, 11 June 2009


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Description Islamic Forum Penzberg:

South of Munich, where the Alps rise beyond Lake Starnberg, one is in deepest Bavaria, a region known for its conservative Catholicism. Here of all places, a small Muslim community has built itself a forum with a prayer room in a contemporary architectural style – a courageous undertaking based on the wish for integration. The aim is to overstretch neither the neighbouring residents nor the members of the community in their willingness to tolerate and approach one another. Admittedly, the building is not right next to the church in the centre of the village, but it is within walking distance on the well-groomed periphery. With its distinctive but in no way provocative or confrontational appearance, the building and its delicate tower fit into the surroundings, where the traditional village structure has already been broken with in the form of different rooflines and ornaments between rusticality and post-war monotony.

The architects from Augsburg arranged the prayer room, the communal and administrative rooms, and an apartment under a single roof on an L-shaped ground plan. But the facades, that are clad in pale stone, clearly indicate the different functions of the rooms – to the east above all the slightly recessed full-length blue glass ornamented window. The entrance features two concrete slabs that swing out of the wall like open gates, inviting visitors into the house in German and Arabic script; the actual door, made of stainless steel, is open to all. Inside, one is greeted by a classical open-plan staircase with a great deal of daylight. To the right, the view opens up into the beautiful prayer room. Shoes must be removed, but anyone is allowed in, women even without a headscarf. From the side, daylight enters between curved concrete slabs, on the front wall the light enters through the blue glass without dazzling. The atmosphere in this space is unusually friendly. The way the light falls draws attention to the ceiling and wall panels, where ornaments are applied to the unclad concrete that can be read as expressions of divine boundlessness. The abstracted star motifs contain The 99 Names of God – such as “The Most Merciful” and “The Utterly Just” – in calligraphy. This design was developed jointly by the artists Lutzenberger + Lutzenberger from Bad Wörishofen and Mohammed Mandi from Abu Dhabi. The forum’s other rooms can be compared with a parish community centre: they offer German lessons, discussion and prayer meetings, the usual.

The architect is familiar with the religion, culture, customs and mentality of Islam, and such a knowledge is essential in the development of modern religious architecture. Here in Penzberg, contemporary architecture is contributing with wise restraint to the gradual integration of different beliefs into village structures. Where places of worship cautiously distance themselves from traditional, dogmatic structures and offer comparatively free spatial interpretations of the spiritual, they genuinely promote mutual understanding between believers. What succeeded in the design of modern churches can, as here in Penzberg, be equally fascinating in contemporary Islamic architecture.

Ursula Baus

Photograph by:     Angelika Barredle
                           Ralf Gerard
                           Nürsen Özlekurt
                           Alen Jasarevic


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Information Islamic Forum Penzberg:

Penzberg / Germany

None (All rights reserved)

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