Progressive church in Sengenthal

13.08.2018

A prefabricated church becomes the new centre.

Some believers spoke of a "bunker of God", others even of a "soul silo". Although the Filialkirche St. Elisabeth is a young and modern church, its cubic architecture of concrete, steel and glass already caused a stir in Sengenthal at that time. But even 50 years after its construction, the church is still one of the outstanding buildings in the Neumarkt region.

Progressive church in Sengenthal

 

Despite or precisely because of the initially controversial architectural style, which is not oriented at all to classical baroque neighbouring churches, the church with its free-standing bell tower grew in the course of the decades to the heart of the approximately 3,700 inhabitants of the Upper Palatinate municipality of Sengenthal. Today the 20 x 20 metre concrete cube, whether coming from Neumarkt i. d. OPf. or Mühlhausen, can be seen from afar and for many it is both an unusual eye-catcher and a formative landmark.

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Pioneering work with prefabricated parts

This is sometimes due to the fact that the Munich graduate architect Franz Xaver Gärtner, who came from Neumarkt i. d. OPf., chose the predominant building material reinforced concrete for the design of the church building. In his invitation to tender, he provided for one metre thick exterior walls in in-situ concrete. Together with the Büchting engineering office, the Max Bögl Group then developed a groundbreaking special proposal that was to be implemented with prefabricated elements. The planning was based on a trough plate with insulation and a curtain-type plate in exposed concrete. The client and architect were enthusiastic about this idea and placed the order.

Concreting on site

The individual precast concrete elements had to be concreted directly on site in a small field factory. Suitable vehicles for transporting the heavy components were difficult to find and very expensive. Instead, the heavy concrete segments were lifted out of the formwork using a winch and erected. For this purpose, an empty scaffold was erected on the floor slab beforehand. The outer walls of the church were then lifted into this basic construction and bolted to the scaffolding.

Sensational component assembly

A huge Schmidbauer truck-mounted crane, which was used on the construction site of the Munich Olympic Stadium at the time, ensured the precise lifting of the outer walls. In the presence of numerous Sengenthal citizens, the assembly in the presence of the owners of Schmidbauer was a real sensation. After the outer walls had been raised, the ceiling was concreted and the cube construction completed - for eternity, it seems. For even 50 years after its inauguration by Paulus Heinz, the then abbot of the Plankstetten monastery, the St. Elisabeth branch church cannot be seen today that its design and construction date back so long.

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