Some think it’s ugly… for me Johannes XXIII church is one of the most outstanding sacred buildings in my city! I live just around the corner and I regularly come here to admire the most beautiful specimen of the brutalist architecture era in Cologne.
Built in 1968 by architect Heinz Buchmann and sculptor Josef Rikus the church appears as an unconventional sculpture of exposed concrete and nowadays forms a congenial ensemble with the recently built vocational college next door.
While the exterior construction is dominated by concrete, the interior is much more complex. Coloured glass dips the church into a warm and dim light and the visitor’s eye falls on a sculptural concrete construction in the middle of the large room which passes into the roof with massive branches. It symbolizes a tree with its branches protecting the church nave.
Cologne has many other beautiful brutalist buildings (for example the church “Christi Auferstehung” in Lindenthal by our city’s most famous architect Gottfried Böhm or the ensemble at the university campus at Albertus-Magnus-Platz). Fortunately there is a growing awareness among architecture enthusiasts and citizens to esteem this architectural movement that had been disregarded for a long time.
By the way: you might like to have a look at some nice pictures of brutalist architecture on Instagram by browsing through the hashtags #koelscheecken_brutalismus #brutalismusimrheinland or #sosbrutalism