You could say it was a match made in heaven. When the congregation of the aging Christus Church in Hannover, Germany joined forces with a local girls’ choir, a partnership was formed that enabled the restoration of the historic Lutheran house of worship while creating a striking new venue for musical training and performance.
Though the facade of the 1864 Neo-Gothic edifice by architect Conrad Wilhelm Hase had been rehabilitated in the 1980s, the interior remained largely neglected—the paving was damaged, the walls were discolored with age, and the building lacked heating. In 2011, local officials came up with the idea of pairing the church with the internationally celebrated Hannover Girls’ Choir, which had outgrown its rehearsal space in a nearby high school and was looking to upgrade its facilities. The brief that resulted from this union required two seemingly disparate goals: the renovation of the landmark building for use as a church and its redesign as a choir center, which would include five rehearsal rooms. “The church had to remain a church,” says Roger Ahrens, principal of Hannover-based ahrens & grabenhorst architects and planners, noting that the challenge became one of inserting the new program in such a way that it would not disrupt the building’s primary purpose.