Chapel of the Holy Spirit (Heilig-Geist-Kapelle), Berlin – Conservation and Restoration

Chapel of the Holy Spirit (Heilig-Geist-Kapelle), Berlin – Conservation and Restoration

Conservation and Restoration of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (Heilig-Geist-Kapelle)

The Chapel of the Holy Spirit (Heilig-Geist-Kapelle) on Spandauer Street is the only surviving building of the medieval Heilig-Geist Hospital and is one of the oldest buildings in Berlin. It was erected around 1300 and was subsequently modified several times. Among the most important changes is the installation of the star vault, which is preserved to this day, with late Gothic decorative painting executed around 1520. The construction of the adjoining business school in 1905 and the relocation of the hospital also changed the use of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, which served as a lecture hall and then as a cafeteria.

hgk-01The preliminary investigations, carried out in several phases from 1995 to 2004, were used to prepare, develop and implement a restoration concept, which allowed the interior space to regain its early 16th-century aspect. See also: Investigations from 1995/96. Jörg Breitenfeldt of Restaurierung am Oberbaum GmbH (RAO) was commissioned to do the conceptual design and project management for the restoration work. The project was carried out in cooperation with Hüffer & Ramin Architects, headed by Ursula Hüffer, and successfully completed in 2004.

The restored room gives the impression of a mediaeval space, but does not restore the original state in detail. The uncovered early 16th-century decorative vault paintings, the red painted ribs, window frames and tracery, and the conserved and repaired brick floor, give the interior a festive and dignified atmosphere.

The Chapel of the Holy Spirit has the oldest and almost completely preserved timber roof truss in Berlin. According to the dendrochronological investigations, the timbers of the roof structure date back to 1476. A special restoration concept was developed and realized for the roof truss to treat the dry rot in the masonry walls and the original wooden beams; this made it possible to completely preserve the wooden elements and the historical masonry. A static replacement construction was installed to ensure stability.

The development of the restoration concept for the façades takes into account results from the investigations of the building structure and surfaces and archival research, as well as the present structural condition, recognizing the different building phases as important components of the building history. Through this acceptance of the historical features of the façades, along with the restoration of the window frames and tracery, the façades now have a high-quality effect, even if due to the many historical changes they no longer represent one specific building phase alone.


  • Creation of the restoration concept (interior, roof truss and façade)
  • Investigation of the façade: paint, plaster and building structure research and documentation of the building phases
  • Development of uncovering techniques for the vault paintings
  • Creation of a concept for the preservation and restoration of the 15th-century roof truss
  • Restoration investigation of the areas uncovered by the archaeological excavations
  • Preparation of the tender specifications for the restoration measures of a multi-leveled competition
  • Coordination of the conservation work during the planning and implementation phases
  • Specialist site management and quality control

Implementation Period 2001 – 2005

Bausumme: ca. 2.75 Mio
Fläche: ca. 160 m2

Humboldt University Berlin, Building Department



  • Deutsche Bank
  • Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz ((German Foundation for Monument Protection))
  • Cornelsen Foundation
  • Krone Management and Technology Ltd & Co. KG


Jörg Breitenfeldt, Norbert Heuler, Ursula Hüffer, Jenny Hüttenrauch (Hg.), Die Heilig-Geist-Kapelle in Berlin. Geschichte – Forschung – Restaurierung. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-86568-045-3