Star Church, model, 1922
The design for the never-built is a masterpiece of Expressionist architecture in Germany. It brought architect Otto Bartning in from the cold as an outsider to become one of the leading lights of the Novembergruppe. On the ground plan of a seven-pointed star, he developed an original spatial concept of great expressiveness typical of the day. With the real world all out of kilter, he chose the timeless motif of crystal as a leitmotif, elevating it to the status of an artistic symbol that represented a yearning for clarity, purity, brightness and sharpness.
Bartning was a source of inspiration for the Utopian architectural fantasies of avant-garde architects, especially Bruno Taut and the members of the ‘Gläserne Kette’. But whereas the latter scarcely expected their dreams on paper to be feasible in reality, Bartning had a specific use for the Star Church in mind. It was planned as a type solution for Protestant churches of varying sizes – towerless, sparsely furnished and with low spatial volumes. The churches would either be freestanding on raised ground or in cities on top of a substructure of parish rooms. The key feature of the design was its roof span, which used the most up to- date engineering techniques available. Bartning’s favoured material was wood – a primeval element and the construction material of the present day.
Star Church, model
42.5 x 80 x 79 cm
Donation of the Union der Evangelischen Kirche Berlin, 2000
Photo: Ilona Ripke
© Estate of Otto Bartning Technical University Darmstadt, Section History and Theory of Architecture