Maranatha Kerk
Maranatha Church, 2e Sweelinckstraat 156. Photo: Vera de Kok / CC

The roof of this church came from Switzerland in kit form

The present site of the Maranathakerk was inside the wartime no-go area. By the time The Hague was liberated, the houses that stood here had been stripped of all their wood and other usable materials. They had to be demolished.

The church’s wooden roof structure was designed by Swiss engineer Emil Staudacher as a prototype for use in temporary churches to be built in the devastated German cities. It arrived in 1949 in kit form on a train from Zurich and was a gift from the Swiss Protestant churches to the Dutch Reformed Church community in The Hague. The roof was subsequently integrated into a design by Dutch architect Frits Eschauzier (1889-1957).

The temporary churches project was initiated by German architect Otto Bartning (1883-1959). Over forty of these churches still exist in places across Germany. They all have the same rose window, the same small windows in the front wall, and the same horizontal lines of windows in the side walls that make the roof appear to float. Bartning located the main door at the side of the church. Here, the ceremonial front entrance was added at the request of the church authorities in The Hague.

More about Otto Bartning's temporary churches can be found on the website of the Otto Bartning Documentation Centre.

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