Herz Jesu Kirche

Munich, Germany

Architect: Allmann Sattler Wappner

Completed: 2000

Florian Holzherr, Munich 
Jens Passoth, Berlin

2000 GE Edison Award of Excellence

The Herz Jesu Church (Church of the Sacred Heart) is an open, light and alive building. George Sexton Associates provided interior and exterior lighting design services to this new parish church. The ultra-modern architecture of this church comes to life with artfully concealed lighting hardware, providing aesthetically pleasing, yet very functional, lighting for the church's activities. The lighting design concept can be thought of as a system of layers. The progression of surfaces and their responses to light and shadow determine the articulation of the design. Performance of light can be experienced without the distraction of obvious hardware, emphasizing the quality of the architectural materials, surfaces and forms. Daylight and electric lighting are dynamically balanced. Natural daylight is focused to the altar as louver positions are angled in response to the sun. The appearance of the 14-meter-high cross evolves, corresponding to the ratio of daylight and electric light. The church is experienced as a lantern and becomes a spiritual focal point for the community. The proper balance of light is essential for the church's soft warm, nighttime identity. When the blue doors are open in the evening, an even wash of light illuminates the wooden box, but the altar in the background remains the focal point.