Neubrandenburg, Germany

Invited European architectural competition 1996

Year of completion: 2001; 2017 Client: City of Neubrandenburg / Stadtentwicklungsgesellschaft Neubrandenburg mbH
Gross area: 6.500 b-m²
Volume: 42.220 m³

The town silhouette of Neubrandenburg has been dominated since the Middle Ages by the church of Marienkirche, a hall church built of North German red brick in the Gothic style and consecrated in 1298.

The church was badly damaged in the 17th and 18th centuries and was repaired and rebuilt by Friedrich Wilhelm Buttel, a student of Karl Friedrich von Schinkel, during 1832-41. In the last days of the Second World War, the Marienkirche was again badly damaged by fire.

The town of Neubrandenburg decided to convert the ruined church into a concert hall and restored and renovated it in the 1980s and 1990s. The full load of the roof was transferred to the exterior walls using steel frames, freeing up the internal space from columns. The implemented plan was based on PES-Architects’ winning proposal in the invited European architectural competition arranged in 1996.

The long church hall is divided into two parts by a fire-resistant and acoustic glazed wall, creating a foyer and a shoebox-shaped concert hall. Its excess width has been reduced using acoustic glass reflectors placed at the top and lower parts of the exterior walls.

The limited size of the narrow foyer was overcome by integrating a three-metre wide aisle between the new hall and the exterior walls. The aisle can function as a part of the foyer for the audience during intervals. This "house within a house” solution allows the historically and architecturally valuable exterior walls to remain fully visible and keeps the new structures almost completely detached from them.

As no external alterations were allowed to the protected building, the auxiliary spaces for the musicians were situated in the basement, with underground exits leading to outside the church building.

The acoustic suspended glass ceiling in the hall is made of glass pyramids in varying forms according to acoustic calculations.

An organ was designed for the concert hall during the main construction phase and a technical space was built for it under the choir balcony, but the original budget did not allow for its purchase. It was not until 2015 that the organ project could start, thanks to a local sponsor. As the original designer of the concert church, Pekka Salminen was also the chief architect of the new organ design, working together with Johannes Klais Orgelbau and Karl Schuke Orgelbauwerkstatt. The new 70-register organ, weighing 21 tonnes, was inaugurated in July 2017. The massive lower base is of ash and the organ pipe facade is of tin and stainless steel.

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