New Synagogue, Dresden

Coordinates: 51°3′9″N 13°44′48″E / 51.0525°N 13.74667°E / 51.0525; 13.74667

The New Synagogue in Dresden was completed in 2001 and designed by architects Rena Wandel-Hoefer and Wolfgang Lorch. It was built on the same location as the Semper Synagogue (1839–1840) designed by Gottfried Semper, which was destroyed in 1938, during the Kristallnacht.

The boundary wall of the New Synagogue incorporates the last remaining fragments of Semper's original building. The outer walls of the synagogue are built slightly off plumb, intended by the architect to convey the feeling that the Jewish community has always been slightly set off from the German city. The synagogue is also an interesting contrast to the city center with which it is juxtaposed. It is set on a slight rise just at the edge of Dresden's baroque center, which was completely flattened by allied bombing during the war. The center is being rebuilt with buildings whose exteriors (and in the case of the more significant buildings, also interiors, though not construction materials,) are precise replicas of the baroque royal city that long made Dresden famous. The synagogue stands beside this careful reproduction of the past, but it is not a replica of the historic Semper Synagogue. It is a bold modernist statement that contrasts dramatically with its neighbors.

The interior space is equally dramatic. The sanctuary building is a cube (all service functions are located in the companion building set at the other end of a stone plaza.) Within this cube is set a square worship space, curtained off on all four sides by an enormous draping of curtains made of chain-mesh in a golden metal. The effect is of an austere richness that evokes an echo of the grand scale of the Temple at Jerusalem.

The building was shortlisted by the jury for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 2003.

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