In the search for an urban architectural articulation for a contemporary church with a focus on social welfare work, this design revolves around a “hortus patens”—a paradisiacal garden as an allegory of a changed, open understanding of the church. Through the transformation of familiar forms and the synergy of typologies, this thesis attempts to draw upon the historical relationship between monastic architecture and student accommodations from the 11th century onwards. Monastic architecture serves as a historical archetype for a connection between sacred diaconal institutions and collective living. The thesis starts with an investigation into monasteries, church architecture, and student housing; this investigation then drives the design as it reacts to a building site located in the center of Graz. Architectural motifs of monastic architecture define a four-story base, to which the church is connected and onto which the student housing units are built. The cloister—as the heart of the community—connects the divergent building structures to an ensemble. This combination preserves their individual identities and at the same time creates additional benefits of a generous open and uniting green space. The church does not lose its special status as a cult building in the design and the student apartments receive individual areas as places of both refuge and meeting. The design emphasizes architecture’s role as enabler of encounters with faith and with the community—of being together both individually through belief and with friends and fellow students collectively at the same time.
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