Detmerode is a housing community linked to the industrial city of Wolfsburg, for which Aalto started designing a cultural centre in 1958 and the Church of the Holy Ghost in 1960. In 1963 he was commissioned to design a church centre for this small suburb, in the gap between a much-frequented shopping centre and a park.

The church, also intended to be used for secular events such as concerts, is directly behind a portico opening onto the shopping centre´s plaza. It contains 250 seats, which can be extended to 600 when needed.

In the shape of a truncated wedge, the church has a slightly pitched lean-to roof. The ceiling features nineteen circular acoustic reflectors 250 centimetres in diameter, evoking an impression of floating. Under the chancel is a grotto-like crypt reserved exclusively for more intimate church ceremonies, such as baptisms and weddings. To the right of the glazed entrance facade rises an unusual bell tower consisting of twelve concrete columns of equal height, between which the bells are hung in a stepped formation.

The L-shaped parish building west of the church is also reached from the plaza portico. The hexagonal parish hall and confirmation classes are directly above the parish centre´s spacious entrance hall. The complex also includes facilities for youth clubs, a vicar´s office, and housing for the vicar and chaplain. The church centre was built between 1965 and 1968.

More information on Alvar Aalto Foundation website.

Location

Detmeroder Markt 6, Wolfsburg
52.3935567, 10.7542139

Images

Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Harald Raebiger / Alvar Aalto Foundation)
The church hall, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
The church hall, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Harald Raebiger / Alvar Aalto Foundation)
Sketches, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
Sketches, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Alvar Aalto Foundation)
Ground plan, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
Ground plan, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Alvar Aalto Foundation)
Elevations, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
Elevations, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Alvar Aalto Foundation)
Sections, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
Sections, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Alvar Aalto Foundation)
Scale model, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre
Scale model, Detmerode Church and Parish Centre (© Eva and Pertti Ingervo / Alvar Aalto Foundation)

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