Architecture People & Places


KSG in Ulm, Germany

Kister Scheithauer Gross Architects and Urban Planners (KSG) designed the new 1,980-square-meter (21,300-square-foot) Weinhof Synagogue in Ulm, Germany. Photo: © Christian Richters
After 20 months of construction, a new synagogue, located in the historic center of Ulm, Germany, has been completed. The orthogonal, four-story building measures 24 by 16 meters (78 by 52 feet) and 17 meters (56 feet) high and is clad in courses of regular stone panels with a minimum number of punched openings.

Cologne-based Kister Scheithauer Gross Architects and Urban Planners (KSG) designed the 4.6-million-Euro building, which stands in the middle of the Weinhof, a short distance from the site of the former synagogue, which was destroyed during World War II.
Inside the worship space of the Weinhof Synagogue. Photo: © Christian Richters

The Weinhof Synagogue's most visually dramatic feature is a two-story stone screen that wraps around one corner at the second and third floors, shading a tall glazed walls behind which the worship space is located. The screen is composed of a regular arrangement of hexagons and triangles that form a repeating Star of David pattern.

The synagogue's orthogonal facade. Photo: © Christian Richters

While the building and many of its spaces are organized with a strict orthogonal orientation, the 125-seat worship space is focused on a diagonal along an imaginary line that points to Jerusalem.

Around, above, and below this space are arranged the synagogue's other spaces, including a foyer, Mikvah, meeting hall, school, and administrative rooms. A day care center, with an enclosed outdoor play area is located directly above the worship space.

Weinhof Synagogue site plan drawing. Image: KSG

Professor Susanne Gross, the KSG partner responsible for the project, offered some additional perspective on the building's importance to the Jewish community of Ulm:
"The synagogue and the Jewish community centre are included in one single structure. The compact cuboid is free standing in the square. This position is historical: in the Kristallnacht in 1938, the former synagogue, which was enclosed in a road-side development, was destroyed. After World War II, a secular building was constructed in the space. The synagogue and the Jewish community lost its ancestral place in the centre of Ulm. The construction of the current synagogue has opened a new site, in the middle of the square. It is as though the synagogue has taken a step forward from its former position, it has reclaimed its location. With no constructed borders, it stands abrupt and solitary on the Weinhof."
Looking out from an upper-floor window opening. Photo: © Christian Richters
The building opened to the public on December 2, 2012.

Project participants
  • Client: Israelite Religious Community of Württemberg statutory corporation
  • Hospitalstraße 36, 70174 Stuttgart, Germany
  • Board of directors: Barbara Traub, Susanne Jakubowski, Michael Kashi Contact: Lars Neuberger, Tel. +49-(0)711-228 36 24 
  • Occupant: Rabbi Shneur Trebnik and the orthodox Jewish community of Ulm
  • General contractor: Matthäus Schmid Bauunternehmen GmbH & Co. KG, Baltringen
  • Project management: nps Bauprojektmanagement GmbH, Ulm 
The screen at night. Photo: © Christian Richters
  • City of Ulm Mayor: Ivo Gönner 
  • Head of construction: Alexander Wetzig 
A sleek concrete and steel stair. Photo: © Christian Richters
Consultants in the Competition and Design Phases
  • Structural analysis: Dr.-Ing. W.Naumann & Partner, Cologne, Germany
  • Thermo gravimetric analysis: ZWP AG, Cologne, Germany
  • Acoustics: ISRW Dr.-Ing. Klapdor GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Building physics: Ing.-Büro für Bauphysik Heinrichs, Cologne, Germany
  • Fire safety:  BFT Cognos, Aachen, Germany

Project data
  • Competition: 11/2009
  • Performance time: 2010-2012
  • Start of construction: 03/2011
  • Completion: 12/2012
  • Gross floor space: 1,980 square meters (21,300 square feet)
  • Construction costs: 4.6 million euros

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