Lucerne Synagogue
Modernism ~ Art Nouveau - Synagogue

Lucerne Synagogue

The history of this unprepossessing building dates back to 1907, when members of the local community founded a building council and purchased a corner plot in the Jewish district of the city. A competition was held to find an architect and Max Seckbach, a German Jew from Frankfurt was chosen. Seckbach had already designed synagogues in Bad Homburg, Weinheim and Memmingen and had incorporated modern elements into all of them, particularly at Memmingen, where he managed to incorporate modern staircases into what, ostensibly, is a Baroque structure. In Lucerne, he created a synagogue that seems to owe as much to the English Arts and Crafts movement – a precursor to Art Nouveau – as it does to the architects classical leanings. From the outside, it appears as a three storey building, with double-height pilasters that pierce the first floor ‘roofline’ and rise to the coffered cornice above. The front elevation is testimony to Seckbacks handling of a number of architectural elements together and the overall effect is noble and eloquent.

The interior is richly decorated with marble, bronze and gold brought together by some stylish Nouveau painting.

From the mid-19 th Century to the interwar-years, the contribution made by Jewish architects and communities to European architectural development was immense and in almost every country in Europe, despite the desecration and destruction of the twentieth century, their legacy as promoters of progressive modernity remains. This itinerary represents a trans-European snapshot of that legacy in the hope that wider understanding of the buildings that remain will contribute to the continuing conservation efforts to care and conserve them.

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