St. Nicholas Church
The St. Nicholas Church in Dortmund is an early example of objective Protestant sacred architecture and was one of the first churches in Germany to employ modern ferroconcrete construction. The Neues Bauen design by the architects Karl Pinno and Peter Grund was at first rejected by the church leadership. It regarded a building of raw concrete with no plastering, which reveals the shuttering patterns—a look that had previously been associated more with industrial buildings— as too sober. At the initiative of the parish and the minister, however, the modern concept was implemented in 1929–30.
The form of the church’s floor plan is based on a trapezoid that tapers toward the elevated choir. On the long side to the west a rectangular building adjoins with the entrance that terminates to the south in a cylindrical chapel. In the north, displaced from the line of the main structure, is a square, campanile-like tower.
The long sides of the church interior are almost completely glazed. The colorful windows and their slender moldings contrast with massive ferroconcrete frame trusses with shuttering patterns. They widen upward and thus emphasize the verticals, lending rhythm to the façade outside. The exterior walls of the area around the altar dissolve completely into windows. The narrow grid of the window moldings distinguishes the choir from the hall.
The Expressionist stained-glass painter, Elisabeth Coester, designed the original windows. However, they were destroyed in World War II and were replaced by temporary glazing. Since 1963, the colorful windows of the glass artist, Hans Gottfried von Stockhausen, have bathed the church interior in bluish light.
In contrast to the church space, the tower has only a few small windows. On its roof is an eightmeter-high cross, which glows blue at night and has become a landmark visible from a distance: the Kreuz des Südens (Southern Cross). The church
is listed as a historical landmark and is occasionally used for concert events as well owing to its particular spatial effect. [KS/HY]