Investigating intercultural potentials in the multi-national neighborhood of Berlin-Neukölln the need of spaces for prayer in the public sphere was identified by local communities. However it is not the conventional religious space such as churches and mosques that people require but rather physical moments that stimulate prayer, (self-) reflection and offer refuge from the daily hustle. ´A space for prayer in-between times that is open for all religions` is demanded. (Quote resident).
The Praying Box evolves out of this vision as a temporary Urban Intervention as part of the Arts&Culture Festival 48 Hours Neukölln 2012 and its motto Last Exit Paradise.
The backbone of the Praying Box and design element at the same time is the Euro-pallet. Layered horizontally and vertically, an irregular texture is simulated. The structure is covered with a transparent and waterproof canvas that, due to the arrangement of the Euro-pallets, generates a play of light in the interior.
A shelf is installed in the entrance where shoes and bags can be deposited and that functions as a room-divider simultaneously.
The interior of the Praying Box is unpretentious, no religious symbols are present. Only a mobile bench and a water device are installed that can be used as required. The interior of the Praying Box is furthermore carpeted.
The size of the box is variable; as part of the Arts&Culture Festival 48 Hours Neukölln 2012 it was designed for its parallel use of two.
The Praying Box is a space for prayer for all religions. Due to its unpretentious design and especially due to the abandonment of religious symbolism, the space can be used and appropriated broadly. Only the multi-lingual reference on the outer walls of the box indicates its function. Depending on size the Praying Box can be used by many people concurrently; supporting the idea of simultaneous prayer of different faiths in one space.
The Praying Box was installed and tested for the first time in 2012 as part of the Arts&Culture Festival 48 Hours Neukölln. As the act of prayer is an intimate ritual, no documentation inside the Box was allowed. During the festival 324 persons of different faiths visited the Praying Box, some of those belonging to the festival´s crowd and others living and working in the area. During the day, Jehovahs witnesses positioned themselves in the vicinity of the box to advertise their magazine, while during the night it was appropriated by a homeless person for sleeping leaving the space cleared up at dawn. A tag* in the interior indicated further appropriation. And ultimately Graffiti-Art is also a religion.
*signature of Graffiti Artists.
The Praying Box was awarded as a Festival Highlight by a distinct festival Jury.
The Praying Box was developed in cooperation with Urban Design students of the Planning Laboratory of the Technical University of Berlin as part of the Contributions to Paradise series for the urban redevelopment of Karl-Marx-Straße in Berlin-Neukölln.
Funding & Support
Funded by the Cultural Office Berlin-Neukölln in the Fonds Dezentrale Kulturarbeit (decentralized cultural work). Made possible with the amazing logistical support of Dr. Martin Steffens, Festival organizer 48 hours Neukölln and his team from the Cultural Network Neukölln.