M2.1b | Of the Sacred and Profane

  Interior of St. Dionysius in Frelenberg © Philipp Pelzer  

Preservation and Conversion of the Filial Church of St. Dionysius in Frelenberg


The village of Frelenberg is located about 20 km north of Aachen. Due to the coal mining in the Aachen area at the beginning of the 20th century, the population grew strongly and thus in 1955 it was decided to build a new church for the old parish church, which had become too small. Between 1958 and 1960, the church of St. Dionysius was built according to plans by the architect Heinz Sanders from Hagen: A large hall building on a cruciform ground plan with sacristy and campanile.

Today, the population of Frelenberg is steadily declining. As part of the restructuring measures of the Aachen diocese, the parishes of Übach-Palenberg, which had been independent until then, were therefore merged in 2010 to form the large parish of St. Petrus, whose main church is in Übach. In addition to the merger of the parishes, the profanation of the Frelenberg branch church is now being considered, which is the reason for this project work.

The first part of the project in the summer semester of 2022 dealt with the regional historical classification, a review of the existing archive material and a building survey on site. The results of the building history research paint a varied and multi-layered picture of the still quite young building in terms of substance and furnishings: the present appearance of the church of St. Dionysius is to be understood as a superimposition of the impression of the time of construction with extensive renovation measures and numerous successively added furnishings.

After the search for traces on the building in building surveys, research and discussions, concepts for a possible conversion of the parish church are now being developed. The architectural transformation of sacred spaces has long since ceased to be a marginal topic: church spaces are in transition in many places. The village context of St. Dionysius poses particular challenges: Which perspectives for a conversion are conceivable in this special place, both economically and with regard to the identity-forming effect of the local church? The room for action and discretion resulting from the protection of historical monuments, ecclesiastical law/ownership and the dedication of the space, as well as the feelings of the congregation, must be carefully fathomed.

Work on the M2 project began in the summer semester of 2022 and will continue in the current winter semester.



M2.1b Design Project
M.Sc. | 2nd and 3rd Semester


Submission of the brochure and plans: Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Submission of the model and final colloquium: Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Self-imposed M2-Project of the Students

Philipp Pelzer, B. Sc. RWTH and
Sarah Maria Schroeter, B. Sc. RWTH


Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Naujokat
Dr.-Ing. Caroline Helmenstein
Dipl.-Ing. Architektin Verena Hake (guest critic)