Germany, Volkenroda 

Christ Pavilion, Expo 2000


Competition 1997 – 1st Prize
Design Meinhard von Gerkan and Joachim Zais
Project manager Jörn Ortmann
Design team Gregor Hoheisel, Sona Kazemi, Stephan Rewolle
Project team Ulf Düsterhöft, Monika van Vught, Matias Otto, Olaf Schlüter, Gabriele Wysocki, Andreas Hahn, Thomas Dreusicke, Helge Reimer
Exhibition Peter Radomski, Magdalene Weiß
Client Evangelisches Büro für die Weltausstellung Expo 2000
Construction period 1999 - April 2000
Re-erection in the monastery of Volkenroda February - August 2001
Gross area 2,004 m²
Volume 18,548 m³



Juergen Schmidt

[email protected]

Klaus Frahm

Basic Principle
The pavilion architecture has been reduced to the presentation of the structure of the modular system with all its details; structurally simple and clear, limited to a few materials, precise in detail, characteristic in its appearance and atmos-phere. The extremely modest and simple materiality: marble, coated steel, fair-fared concrete, glass.

Light creates the atmosphere in the Room of Christ; in the middle top light falls down from the column heads, vertically highlighting the slender columns. The enclosing surface, 11 mm glass panes in combination with 10 mm finely cut, crystalline marble from the Greek island Naxos, is a single-shell construction. Its vivid translucence influences the room atmosphere in such a way, that the space remains contemplative-introverted despite the intensive lighting.

The surrounding "cloister" has a closed roof and is externally equipped with a double-shell glass façade, forming large-scale show-cases in the space between. These are filled with materials of various origins. Depending on the filling the walls are more or less translucent, partially also transparent; consequently the light atmosphere is modified and varyingly dramatized along the cloister.

Room Programme
The cloister is 3.40 m wide and approximately 6.80 m high and simultaneously serves as covered walkway and exhibition area. It frames the overall complex, its entrance being marked with three turnstiles. The cloister embraces the exhibition cabinets with the impressive, large Room of Christ with a height of approximately 18 m, the roof being supported by nine slender, cross-shaped columns.

Steel Construction System
All building units are assembled from a modular construction unit. The modularized system of the cloister and the Room of Christ façade is based on a spatial grid dimension in the x, y and z axis, a large cube with an edge length of 3.40 m so to speak. The Room of Christ façade is designed as a simple post-and-frame construction. It is an easy insert and screw joint assembly.The cloister construction consists of element frames with an axis dimension of 3.40 m / 6.80 m. They are assembled to form a rigid frame from four L-shaped typical profiles and flat steels and are erected similar to that of the cloister with inserted joints.

The frames are fourpart from edged sheet metal. The vertical joints between the assembled elements take installations. Due to inserted joints all connections can easily be disassembled. The roof is made from pre-fabricated stainless steel cladded elements, which can also be easily disassembled.

The complete complex with the exception of the crypt, the colonnade and the water basin was disassembled after the EXPO world exhibition and reassembled in the same order in the cloister grounds of Volkenroda, Thuringia. In this place, the Jesus confraternity works on the reconstruction of the oldest maintained Cistercian cloister in Germany since 1994.

An inserted joint has been used for the first time for the construction of the Christian Pavilion, which allows that large parts can be pushed together and firmly connected on site, making additional welding, screw-fixing or riveting  unnecessary. This insert joint being resistant to bending has been made possible by the patented "Sigma Knot", developed by Ewald Rüter. Two parts - a standardized filling  and a slip-on element - fit precisely. In order to also transfer vertical loads, the insertion surfaces inside the knot are inclined. Rising forces, for example at the roof due to a wind suction force, are controlled by a pin, which is crosswise pushed through the insertion parts of the knot.