The House of One, a multi-religious house of worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, will soon open in Berlin. Let the irony not be lost on anyone that such a model for religious co-existence and multiculturalism is to be located in the city that was once synonymous with fascism and racism.
The founders of The House of One call it a contemporary expression of religious life and as such “must be expressed in an equally modern architectural language.”
On 14 April 2020, the foundation stone for the House of One was laid on Petriplatz in Berlin Mitte. The date commemorates the Berlin premiere of the play “Nathan the Wise” by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in 1783. Lessing’s Ring Parable promotes the attitude of treating all religions with respect and tolerance, but also the claim of religions to do good.
Berlin was once, for centuries, a symbol and a bastion of Western culture. It was once seen as the center of modern study, thought and science. Then came the rise of Nazism, followed by more than 40 years of division during the cold war. For almost 60 years, the once capital of enlightened thought, became a symbol of autocracy and oppression.
Then the Berlin Wall came down and the two Germanys were reunified; the city once again became a modern Western capitol. The House of One on Petriplatz, the medieval birthplace of Berlin, aims to add a new and hopeful chapter to the diverse history of this city. It is being built on a site where churches once stood. It will boast a grand hall with an almost 30 foot high ceiling which will showcase archeological artifacts from those churches.
The three individual prayer halls, one for each of the world’s major monotheistic religions, will be arranged around the central hall.
The project began 2011 with the establishment of structures for equally owned action. A global architectural competition for the new building’s design was held in 2012 and the start of a global fundraising campaign 2014. Although the House of One has not been built yet, there is already a house full of life. Partnerships throughout the world, events and school projects make tangible that religions can be an asset – putting a model of a peaceful coexistence opposed to all atrocities committed in the name of religion.
Roland Stolte, a Christian theologian who helped found the project, said “The idea is pretty simple. We wanted to build a house of prayer and learning, where these three religions could co-exist while each retaining their own identity.”
“There are many different ways to God, and each is a good way,” said Rabbi Andreas Nachama who is turning the vision into reality in partnership with a pastor and imam.
Enes Canter is a Turkish-American NBA player with the Portland Trail Blazers. He said, “We all believe in the same God, one God. We need to leave our differences on the table and try to find what we have in common. That’s how we can learn from each other.”
The House of One offers a regular dialogue and exchange of ideas which cover all areas of society. Its founders state, “Religiosity should not be limited to private matters. Religions can and want more. Over the centuries, religions have repeatedly enriched society, in architecture, the arts or the sciences. It is important to build on this in a new way.”