LichtKirche made from PLEXIGLAS® and plywood at the Hesse state horticultural show

© EKHN/Fotograf: Simba Burgdorf

A church that moves

Made from PLEXIGLAS® and wood, the LichtKirche is no ordinary church. Having no fixed location, it is the church that comes to you. Now the LichtKirche has been around for ten years and it is still going as strong as ever.

While you might recognize it as a church straight away, there is one thing that makes the LichtKirche truly unique: it isn’t made out of stone or concrete like other churches; it is made out of wood and PLEXIGLAS®. In the daylight, the bright building is open and inviting. But what is really striking is how the LichtKirche stands out in the darkness, with colorful LEDs lighting up the PLEXIGLAS® Satinice.

A church at eye level

The LichtKirche will remain at the Hesse state horticultural show in Bad Schwalbach, Germany until early October 2018. The luminous building is easily visible from the street. It is more or less built at ground level, just behind a small platform for worshipers. In front is a lawn where chairs are set up when the weather allows. “Thanks to the open nature of the church, we have close contact with the people and receive direct feedback from them,” says LichtKirche minister Mareike Frahn-Langenau, who is responsible for communications projects for the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN). “Because people simply come by, their visits are more spontaneous than they would be at other church buildings.”

When the weather takes a turn for the worse, up to 40 people can be accommodated inside the LichtKirche. The church interior is flooded with light thanks to the PLEXIGLAS® Satinice sheets positioned between 14 timber frames to form the roof and walls. The structure is built on a gravel base under a steel grid, which in turn is filled with concrete blocks. This allows the 14 timber frames to be fastened securely.

A mobile events center

The idea for the LichtKirche stems from previous events, including the state fair and major church festivals. “Before we had the LichtKirche, we used to hold those kinds of events in tents or local churches. But then at some point, we were motivated to build something of our own that would be recognized as a church,” the minister continues. And so, a competition was held for students, which is where the idea for the LichtKirche came from. The architecture firm raum-z architekten was then commissioned to construct the 13 meter-long, 4.30 meter-wide, and 8 meter-high building.

The LichtKirche made from PLEXIGLAS® and plywood at the Hesse state horticultural show

A joint effort

The LichtKirche is an project of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN). It is a temporary construction that is used for prayer and worship, music and dancing, and a wide range of cultural events. Its appearance at the Hesse state horticultural show in Bad Schwalbach has been made possible thanks to the joint efforts of the EKHN, the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck (EKKW), and the Diocese of Limburg.

© EKHN/Fotograf: Christian Weise

Permanently stunning

It has now been ten years. In that time, the LichtKirche has been set up and dismantled numerous times at a variety of locations, even at the state fair and the IAA International Automobile Exhibition. “Setting up the church runs like clockwork,” says Frahn-Langenau. “The ground on which it sits needs to be prepared before the LichtKirche can be erected.” It takes a whole week to set up the LichtKirche each time. Sometimes it stays in one place for a few days, other times it is there for several weeks, as is the case at the state horticultural show. “The PLEXIGLAS® will not yellow and is very robust. The wind and rain, and the frequent set-up and dismantling hasn’t hurt it in any way,” the minister continues. “It is still in great shape.”

The PLEXIGLAS® allows the light to penetrate really well. It looks absolutely stunning in the evening.

Mareike Frahn-Langenau
LichtKirchen minister

This is Frahn-Langenau’s first time as minister of the LichtKirche. In addition to its open atmosphere, she especially loves the way the church looks at night. “In the daytime, the lightly-colored materials are what stand out, but come night-time, it’s an entirely different story. That is the time for the LEDs to shine. They are integrated into the floor and illuminate the PLEXIGLAS® Satinice. It lets the light through but it is not completely transparent. The surfaces give a warm and mellow feel. “The PLEXIGLAS® allows the light to penetrate really well. It looks absolutely stunning in the evening,” explains the LichtKirche minister.