Unconditional Refuge
Patrick Greber
FS  2022  Re form


After the Reformation, the church handed over social tasks to the welfare state. It seems obvious that today’s capitalist state is not up to this task. Now, perhaps more than ever, there is social injustice.The gap between rich and poor is widening and the right to a place in society is by no means a reality for all.

The church still has the luxury of not taking on the same tasks as the state. It can act more freely and support thoughts, concepts and people who would perish or fall short with bureaucratic means alone.This freedom of action is elementary in the existence of the church and must be further deepened and expanded.

The role of the Predigerareal has a consistency over the years. It was always a haven for people on the fringes of society.This refuge became less important through the Reformation, the rise of capitalism and the anonymity of the modern city.

Libraries, such as the Zentralbibliothek next to the Predigerkirche, are public institutions.Their mandate is to make knowledge accessible to all but not directly engage in work against social inequality. However, history shows that these ideas are connected.

With the emergence of the internet and Big Data, libraries, like churches, are becoming islands in the vortex of an increasingly fast-paced society.There it is still possible to obtain knowledge without having to reveal personal information. Anonymity in the acquisition of knowledge has become a rare commodity, which, however, presupposes a deceleration of the individual.

It seems as if the good can only be realised in an environment removed from the fast and profit-oriented society. Away from the everyday whirl of a capitalist world, islands with their own laws can emerge.

Within this symbiotic island in the centre of Zurich, the church can benefit directly from the knowledge and educational mission of the library.The mixture of the audience leads to new points of contact. However, space must be provided for this conglomerate. In this project, spatial connections shape an ensemble based on education, refuge and spirituality of any form. A mediator bridges the gap between church and library. Small interventions, connected through a central access tower provide space to people in need.The newly thought Predigerareal supports a coexistence of education, shelter and spirituality.

An unconditional refuge.