The central Mosque of the Turkish-Islamic Union in Köln-Ehrenfeld has given us one of the most vigorously discussed German building projects of the past 10 years. With this spectacular domed structure, Paul Böhm, the youngest son of Pritzker Prize-winner Gottfried Böhm and grandchild of Dominikus Böhm, has successfully introduced the Osman mosque typus into the modern age. The dome and minaret provide the Turkish / Islamic community with visual identification points. At the same time, this shell-construction structure is broken up into individual segments in a manner that opens it up to both the neighbourhood and the world. Containing conference halls, rooms for community use, a bazaar, a library and a museum, the complex is intended to convey to the surrounding area a message of retained ties to the historical country of origin coupled with acceptance and integration into the new homeland, and a willingness to engage in dialogue.
Up to now the mosque represents the high point of the architectural career of Paul Böhm, who was born in 1959 and who is teaching at the Fachhochschule Köln. His work encompasses a multitude of exciting projects and realized buildings, including cultural buildings, university buildings, administration buildings and residential buildings. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that an architect who comes from a family of church builders should have added an impressive religious structure to oeuvre. St. Theodor in Köln-Vingst is a centralplan building that possesses a coherent atmosphere suited to contemplation whilst, at the same time, opening itself to a part of the city that suffers from social problems.
Figures who have played a significant role in Paul Böhm’s professional development include Tadao Ando, the master of velvetsmooth concrete, Oswald Mathias Ungers, the great lover of geometry, and Peter Zumthor, the essentialist of his generation. Like these three figures, the architects who Böhm worked with prior to founding his own firm in 2001, all espoused very different philosophies of architecture: Otto Steidle, Anton Schweighofer, Richard Meier. Paul Böhm does, of course, also owe a debt to the traditions of the family of architects that he comes from—a tradition that he continues in his own individual way.