The House of One: Berlin Makes Plans to Build a Synagogue-Church-Mosque Under One Roof

The House of One (Getty Images)
The House of One (Getty Images)

Berlin thinks it is making religious history as Muslims, Jews and Christians join hands to build a place where they can all worship. The House of One, as it is being called, will be a synagogue, a church and a mosque under one roof.

An architecture competition has been held and the winner chosen. The striking design is for a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Off the courtyard below will be the houses of worship for the three faiths – the synagogue, the church and the mosque. It is to occupy a prominent site – Petriplatz – in the heart of Berlin.

The location is highly significant, according to one of the three religious leaders involved, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin. “From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a centre is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture,” he told the BBC.

Can they get on? “We can. That there are people within each group who can’t is our problem but you have to start somewhere and that’s what we are doing.”

The imam involved, Kadir Sanci, sees the House of One as “a sign, a signal to the world that the great majority of Muslims are peaceful and not violent”. It’s also, he says, a place where different cultures can learn from each other.

Each of the three areas in the House will be the same size, but of a different shape, architect Wilfried Kuehn points out.

“Each of the singular spaces is designed according to the religious needs, the particularities of each faith,” he says. “There are for instance two levels in the mosque and the synagogue but there’s only one level in the church. There will be an organ in the church. There are places to wash feet in the mosque.”

He and his team of architects researched designs for the three types of worshipping place and found more similarities than expected.

“What’s interesting is that when you go back a long time, they share a lot of architectural typologies. They are not so different,” Kuehn says. “It’s not necessary for instance for a mosque to have a minaret – it’s only a possibility and not a necessity. And a church doesn’t need a tower. This is about going back to the origins when these three faiths were close and shared a lot architecturally”.

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SOURCE: BBC
Stephen Evans

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