The new synagogue in Dessau – a house of prayer for all people

Architect Prof Alfred Jacoby, who has decades of experience with new synagogue buildings, is responsible for the design of this newly built place of worship. Under the direction of the Frankfurt office, new buildings have already been constructed in Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Aachen, Cologne, Kassel and Chemnitz. The Jacoby office selected the two designers Jean-Marc da Costa and Manfred Wolf to design and realise the special luminaires for the first buildings, which were constructed from the end of the 1980s.

In Dessau, the architects opted for a ceiling design that incorporates the Star of David as a striking central element and dispensed with a specially designed chandelier – not least because of the limited budget. 18 DRAFT pendant luminaires with their double ring arrangement emphasise the special ceiling design without disturbing it. The main focus in the central part of the building is on the seven-armed chandelier.

This unique piece is mounted as a wall-mounted iconic symbol next to the Torah shrine on wooden panelling. The design presents itself as a reduced arrangement of seven lines, which “float” next to each other without touching each other due to their attachment to a separate plate on the back and radiate a certain lightness and immateriality. This effect is further emphasised by the backlighting of the individual arms. These are each held in two layers by backlit acrylic bars, whereby the rear layer is penetrated by the bars and the light can escape laterally in two planes. In the case of the lights that stand above the arms like flames, the front surface is also penetrated so that the flame shines.

The menorah is flanked by flat, circular wall lights from the LID series, which emit their light around the sides of the wall and only allow a corona at the edge of the surface at the front through an opaque glass pane, creating a spherical aura of light. Another model, the SLICE² PI, is used in the rear section of the synagogue with a lower ceiling height. The floating effect of the luminaire is created by a small amount of light that is emitted onto the ceiling via an opaque film.

Black is also the colour of the other lights used in the adjoining rooms. One of these is the REFLEX² series, which has a filigree frame structure. In terms of design, the luminaires were integrated into the air conditioning system in the ceiling in such a way that they form the end of each individual channel. The CAVITY model is also used on the side of the suspended ceiling. A ceiling-mounted downlight with a simple cylindrical body that is recessed towards the light source in the shape of a funnel, thus ensuring a high level of glare control. There is also a row of CAVITY in the outdoor area above the wide steps to the entrance, which are also fitted with a weather-resistant seal. This row provides inviting lighting at the entrance to this place of prayer and assembly.

The ceremonial inauguration of the newly built synagogue of the Jewish community in Dessau Roßlau took place on 22 October 2023 in the presence of Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and numerous guests of honour.

By Manfred Wolf – Article excerpt, published in LICHT 9 | 2023

Photography:, Henning Schacht (Olaf Scholz)

CaseSynagogeLocationDessau Roßlau DEContractorJüdische Gemeinde zu DessauArchitectArchitekturbüro Prof. Alfred JacobyLight PlannerArchitekturbüro Prof. Alfred JacobyCustom SolutionsMenoraCollection Products13 REFLEX2 Ceiling M 300, 18 CAVITY Recessed L, 92 CAVITY Ceiling L, CAVITY Suspension L, 18 DRAFT Suspension Tube M, 11 SLICE2 PI Ceiling M, 13 LID Wall, CURLING Wall S (ewiges Licht) Year2023CategoriesSpecial, Public BuildingPhotography, Henning Schacht (Olaf Scholz)

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