Client: Stift zum heiligen Geist
Construction Period: 2013
Work Phases: 1–9
Floor Area: 142 m²
Chapel in the Convent of the Holy Spirit
The neo-Gothic convent building by Karl Börgermann is an incunabulum of the Hanoverian school of brick architecture. By sensitively converting the historic chapel, it is now giving full access to the residents of the home for senior citizens. While folding glass walls allow for a flexible usage offering fully accessible rooms, a new reserved color concept and an ornamental pattern give the chapel a welcoming, light atmosphere. The natural colors of the used materials – light lime plaster, red brick, and dark brown glazed wood – leave the interior with a mark, contrasting to the formerly strong colors from the 1970s renovation.
The chapel itself was – and still is – a sacred room organized on two floors with side galleries. The lower level forms the main space, spanned by the vaulted ceiling. Entering through the main entrance, the altar and the chapel windows draw the attention, being flanked by the galleries on either side.
Prior to the conversion, the convent was missing a community space, being attractive and accessible for everyone. Thus, the idea evolved to develop the chapel as a central meeting space. The fact that many residents did not reach the upper galleries due to steps and stairs was particularly considered when planning the conversion.
Made from glass and inserted along the main beam on either side of the altar, the partition walls provide a flexible space setting. By opening and closing these walls, the nave can be connected or separated from the side aisles. The partition walls can be folded sideways, thus the spatial atmosphere of the historic, sacred room can be reactivated at any time and on any occasion.
In the upper floor, the balustrades of the galleries were equipped with fixed glass elements. Consequently, the visual relation is maintained, yet the newly created rooms can be used for other purposes. With the conversion of the chapel, the benches and raised platforms were removed and replaced with continuous flooring. The newly created space is now easily accessible also for inhabitants of limited mobility.
The large windows in the nave as well as the partition walls received an especially designed ornamental pattern referring to the original Christian tradition of the convent. As biblical image, the fish, flower, and bird refer to the elements water, earth, and air – symbolizing and subsuming trinity, the rabbit is portrayed as well.
Direct spotlights illuminate the altar and the galleries punctually and at the same time provide an indirect lighting for the oratory. Two side lights next to the altar serve as candelabras. All luminaires can be dimmed according to the event. Within the side wings additional ceiling lights provide direct as well as indirect lighting in dependence with the lighting in the main area.
With the new color and lighting concept the entire oratory received a fresh appearance. The design from the 1970s on the galleries, wooden doors, and organ with the heavy green and red colors disappeared for the benefit of a reserved design in white and grey with golden details. The discreet color scheme aims to accentuate the glass ornaments and thus its storytelling. Also, the altar was freed from the massive wooden panelling and reconstructed presenting its original state now. Bricks, decoration elements, and pilaster were reconstructed in detailed attention as well, so the original room is shown to its fullest advantage like in Börgermann’s interest.