Laura van Heeswijk
History of Art
The Brutalist Church: A Case Study of the Mariendom in Neviges.
Modern church architecture presents a specialised field in architecture. The religious building lends itself to elaborate designs that encapsulates something other than our everyday life. It poses questions on how it addresses its function and contemporary context as they become both architectural as well as religious pilgrimage sights. The Mariendom Wallfahrtskirche in Neviges, Germany, by Gottfried Böhm was built with the aim of providing a church that would house not only the rising number of pilgrims, but also the ideals of the liturgical movement. The guidelines of the Vatican Council in 1962-1965 implemented the vision of the liturgical movement to democratise faith and bring the communal mass back to the centre of church life. The Mariendom, completed in 1968, is designed to function accordingly. The ground plan uses the pilgrim way as a red thread leading to the centralised church space where the communal mass is the centre of the church. The importance of the active participation of the laity is thus emphasised. Böhm employs his own individual style, brutalist with strong expressionistic tendencies, to bring together daily life with church life. The Mariendom is an impressive mountain of concrete with an extraordinary sculptural interior and roof. Böhm creates an iconic space that is atmospheric and transcendental, echoing the spiritual function of the building. The Mariendom is a modern church that employs its own unique formal language to fulfil its modern liturgical function.