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Martin Luther Church
Play with Light and Transparency 

A protestant church, together with a sanctuary, a church hall, and auxiliary spaces, was built in the center of Hainburg.

Hainburg, Austria
Protestant Church Lower Austria
Start of planning
Start of construction
Site area
420 m²
Gross floor area
289 m²
10 m

Project info

The building consists of four main elements: a sanctuary, a community hall, a sacristy, and a sculptural bell tower. The shape of the building derives from that of a huge table, with its entire roof construction resting on the legs of the table — four steel columns. 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 to the interior. The church interior itself is not only a place of mysticism and quietude but also an open space for the community. 

The correlation of the number three and the concept of Trinity in Christian theology can be interpreted as a deliberate coincidence”. 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 has direct access to the glass-covered children’s corner, illuminated by daylight, which also accommodates the baptistery. The community hall is situated behind it: folding doors on the entire length of the space between the two main chambers allow for combining them into one continuous spatial sequence. A folded glass façade on the opposite side opens towards the street. On the interior ceiling, the suspended frame structure was covered with several layers of steel fabric and rush matting as a carrier layer for the cladding of the stucco ceiling, whose geometry follows the three-dimensionally curved shape of the roof with the skylights. 

Another key element of the church 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 centuries — old building is translated into a form in line with the times, via today’s digital tools. 

The roof structure was delivered in four separate parts to Hainburg, assembled, welded, and coated on site. The whole structure was then mounted with a crane into the designated position, on the solid concrete walls of the prayer room.

The implementation of the intricate geometries required specific technologies of metal processing and manufacturing only available in the 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. Due to its shape with three skylights, the roof 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 frame construction. In turn, this structure of steel plates and the frame sits on a girder grid. The compound of the grid, frame, and steel skin transfers the total load of the roof (23 tons) on four steel columns which are embedded on the solid concrete walls of the prayer room. The 20-meter high sculptural bell tower in the forecourt is a vertical self-supporting steel structure, that completes the building ensemble and makes it a highly visible landmark. 

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