Cologne St. John Baptist with 1901 Oldsmobile Runabout

St. John Baptist Church (Cologne) by Karl Band, with 1901 Oldsmobile Runabout

Karl Band, Cologne St. John Baptist, with 1901 Oldsmobile Runabout (A3; 42×29,7cm)

This is a beautiful example of the art of repair and rebuilding, as practised widely in the middle of the former century, in this undisclosed place, which met with generous structural destruction in the second half of the Second Great War, and thus had a chance to develop a unique style of modernity in rebuilding, a style which flourished for only a little more than one decade, only to be replaced by a still unique, but aesthetically rather unsatisfactory industrialized construction process, using holistically questionable materials like Ytong, autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC), calcium silicate units, and mineral insulation board.

In this short blessed phase before the chemical industrial complex got on its feet again and took over the construction market, brick was the preferred building material; often recycled from the rubble which was lying around in great quantities to be collected and reused or heaped wholesale into artificial hills. Concrete, if it was used, remained mostly unadorned and unhidden, its surface showing the marks of the cast in which it was poured, a practice which developed, outside of its niche as a method of artistic repair for churches and damaged art museums, into a fashion, an alternative International Style utilizing less glass and steel, more brick and concrete, mostly employed in the construction of publically funded municipal buildings, police stations, universities, or social housing projects. This style, though, did not really take hold here, in this undisclosed place, but abroad, were minds were more open, less  numbed.

This church, first recorded in the year 1090, suffered extensive damage during the war, and then became what was locally praised a jewel of modern reconstruction, a reconstruction which was realized by the architect/builder Karl Band, who could be considered the North Rhine Westphalian version of the Bavarian Hans Döllgast.

This church now serves as a combined worship and convention center for the CRUX youth movement, which aims to spiritually cleanse and refresh the world though collective missionary itineracy.

This rendering of that church is embellished with an imaginary natural scenery in the background, a slightly enlarged vintage motorcar, and the stylized depiction of a floating device housing a solar propulsion motor. Atmospheric rendering © 2021 by Torsten Slama and the International Pro Brick Society

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