Coexistence in Berlin

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The House of One will provide a space for prayer and dialogue between the world’s religions.

Many of the world’s disagreements and conflicts can be attributed to religion. But in Berlin, one site’s construction is hoping to create a bridge of understanding and dialogue between different faiths. The idea for the House of One began in 2009 when St. Peter’s Church was undergoing excavation after having been destroyed during WWII. The Protestant community recognized that there was not enough need for another church while also noticing the lack of spaces for local Jews and Muslims. A collaboration between a pastor, a rabbi, and an imam put into motion the tri-faith place of worship. Markus Dröge a Protestant bishop commented, “We can see all over the world that faith can divide people. We want to show that faith doesn’t divide Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but instead reconciles them.”

A competition for the design of the building was opened in 2012. Architect Wilfried Kuehn, won with his plan for separate rooms for each religion and a central area connecting the spaces. Each of the three rooms are the same size but feature different elements like an organ in the church and a foot washing area in the mosque. Kuehn notes, “What’s interesting is that when you go back a long time, they share a lot of architectural typologies. They are not so different.” A crowdfunding campaign is hoping to raise the $13.5 million needed for the basic version of the building to be constructed. The final version is expected to cost $58.6 million.

While the House of One is certainly a unique project in its intentions and scope, it’s not the only site where religions cohabitate. Religious communities have been known to share their buildings with others, especially since they may pray on different days or at different times. Additionally, public places like airports and university campuses often house spaces for multiple faiths under the same roof.

Photo byzeevveez, licensed underCreative Commons.

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