St Josephs Parish Church Dormagen

Walter von Lom

Subject | Buildings which reveal their construction are trying to express their simplicity, their openness, their "honesty". And if the design is hand-crafted in traditional materials, then a sense of history and of "belonging" are also conveyed. Even today, such structures can only be built by specialists using traditional methods. On the other hand, there are buildings in which the "message" conveyed by the form itself takes precedence over the actual function of the building. In our modern age it is only the structures serving deep-rooted cultural needs which can be considered in this aspect, e.g. churches or memorials.

The parish church described here is a particularly clearly defined and imposing structure which satisfies these criteria. It generates a feeling of "belonging" while still remaining cosmopolitan, helped no doubt by the large areas of glass clearly separating the timber and masonry elements. The flat lead sheeting on the steeply-sloping vast expanse of the roof emphasizes the cross shape.

Design j The sizes and possible uses of the existing church buildings in the parish of St Joseph were no longer adequate to meet the needs and concepts of a modern community. Substantial alterations were needed in any case. Following lengthy deliberations, in which extensions to the existing 19th-century church were put forward as perhaps the cheaper alternative, the decision to erect a new structure and re-organize the existing buildings was found to be the best solution. The new church was conceived as a marshalling factor within the existing ensemble of church and parish buildings, creating a spiritual "island" and an urban identification point in the otherwise unstructured local surroundings. The old tower now forms a focal bell-tower around which the little complex of buildings is grouped. The new church was completed in 1989.

The church is a cross-shaped central room dominated by the timber roof construction, in particular by the roof trusses which appear very complex but at the same time illustrate a very simple design principle. The main supports for the roof are located 2.50 m inside the church, i.e. away from the external walls, thus suggesting lower "lateral aisles" reminiscent of the classical basilican style of church architecture.

Location

Katholische Kirchengemeinde St. Josef, An St. Josef 2, 41540 Dormagen-Delhoven, Germany

Client

Katholische Kirchengemeinde St. Josef, Delhoven

Architect

Walter von Lom & Partner, Dipl.-lng. Architekten, Cologne

Project Manager Hubert Meuser

Site Manager Eduard Stammel

Structural Engineer Konstruktionsgruppe für Bauwesen Tripler/Zilinski, Cologne

Chief Carpenter J. Happerschoss, Cologne

Date of Completion 1989

Costs

The total building costs for a volume of 4900 m3 were 2.5 million DM.

Collar Beam Roof

6 | View of roof during construction showing collar beam at the roof intersection.

7 | The base of a standard truss during construction and before adding the masonry.

8 | Worm's-eye view of roof intersection.

9 | View inside the church showing the truss construction at the roof intersection and the pleasantly unobtrusive lighting arrangement.
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