Bieling Architekten

Sophia School

Hamburg, Germany

Church and school

With its placement and volume, the design forms the future ensemble of church, monastery and school. The future common forecourt for church and school is at an entrance level slightly above street level. The previous threshold to the church portal will be replaced by barrier-free access at the edge of the square. Access to the monastery is retained. From the forecourt, at a moderate distance between the church and the school, and framed by the three-story new building at the height of the eaves of the church, a proportioned schoolyard opens up. Benches and structured hedge bodies stand on its stone pavement. The head side of the school with its expansive seat walls underlines the address-forming entrance without any isolating effect.

As the new building alternately retreats from its alignment, the structure is divided into well-lit and true-to-scale rooms. The scale of the pillars of the nave provides the template for the rhythm of the facade of the new building and underlines the symbolic coexistence between the parish and the school.


The entrance area opposite the nave gives access to both floors via an open staircase and an open space. The auditorium and canteen on the ground floor and study and group rooms on the upper floors are grouped around this spatial center. The auditorium and canteen open onto the schoolyard and incorporate the break area into school life via large window elements.

The administration and preschool can be reached directly from the foyer via a separate staircase and are spatially legible in the same way as they are connected to the school and as a separate unit. In addition to the central access, the connecting element on the upper floors is the shared donor garden. Its use as a school garden or, alternatively, as a green classroom supports the children's relationship to the growth and development of nature and symbolizes donation as a way to preserve creation. The adjoining room of silence and worship connects indoor and outdoor space with its surrounding bench.

The course of the corridors enables constant spatial references to the development and the garden and promises an open, positive atmosphere. Cloakroom elements with seating options divide the corridors and make allocation and orientation easier. The classrooms have mutually switchable group rooms.

Half of its volume is concealed in the basement, where a separate staircase can be accessed independently of the school.

The day-care center will have a ground-level entrance and its own outdoor area at the rear of the schoolyard. A common play area made up of lawns and sand between the hedge discs is supplemented by separate ground-level terrace areas for each kindergarten group.


The design of the facade connects the monument and the future. The listed church building provides the reference points for eaves heights and facade structure. The order and material of the church facades can be found in an adapted form and similar coloring in the windows and wall surfaces of the new building. Profiled clinker surfaces create an invigorating plasticity under the incidence of light. The ratio of transparent and closed areas in the facade is determined from the factors of daylight, heat protection and privacy and is supplemented by opening sashes for natural ventilation and external sun protection.