The Auferstehungskirche has had a very eventful history – from being a large metropolitan church with capacity for 1350 workers from the Berlin Friedrichshain district – to becoming the Umweltforum, a magnificent ecological event venue for conferences, seminars and events.
The Auferstehungskirche was built between 1892-95 on a former pauper's cemetery – hence the name "Auferstehungskirche", meaning church of resurrection. Architecturally speaking it is a Late Romanesque red brick church with Gothic elements. The construction was unusual for its use of cast-iron columns supporting the vaulted ceilings and galleries. Because of this, the nave bay (the central space) gives an impression of spaciousness and transparency.
The church was badly damaged in WWII after which it was only scantily rebuilt. The whole chancel, vestry and the adjoining bay were removed due to war damage. The length of the church nave was thereby reduced by almost a half. The church was consecrated again in 1961 and was listed as an historic building towards the end of the 70s.
In communist East Germany in the 1980s, the Auferstehungskirche was a meeting point for political opposition groups. This is where musician Günter Holly Holwas and church minister Rainer Eppelmann initiated the “Blues Mass” on the theme of “Life is fun”. Bärbel Bohley and the group “Woman for Peace” were also using the church at the time. Their annual community meeting was held in the Auferstehungskirche with around 500 participants.
Up until the fall of the wall in 1989, damage to the building only worsened. The church congregation could only use the nave bay in summer because the heating didn’t work, the walls were damp and the window panes broken.
In 1993 the church tower area could be renovated with the financial support of the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umweltschutz (Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment). In 1995 the congregation (Kirchengemeinde) and the Berlin Mitte Parish (Kirchenkreis Berlin Stadtmitte) developed a viable, long-term concept for the redevelopment of this historically listed building: the creation of an event venue with an ecological orientation in combination with the lease of conference rooms and office spaces.
In 1999 the financing of the project was assured with a grant of 5.4 million Deutschmarks (approx. 2.7 million Euro) from the Umweltförderprogramm (Fund for Environmental Development) of the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. In January 2000 construction began with the demolition of the chancel and the official ground breaking ceremony on 31 March 2000. Following the architectural plans of Voigtländer (Bergisch Gladbach) the galleries were built back into the church nave and an illuminated wall was constructed for the conference hall. The roof was completely rebuilt and a glass and steel extension was erected, recreating the outer proportions of the original building.
After two years, construction was completed. The nave was consecrated for the third time in its history. Office leasing parties moved into approximately 1.000m² on the upper floors and the event and convention centre began business. Since then, the nave bay auditorium and its 14 adjacent conference rooms have been regularly used for events such as conferences, congresses, lectures, evening events, press conferences, seminars and workshops.
You can find more historic pictures of the Umweltforum on our Flickr profile.