John Paul II. Center

„ … Brothers and sisters, don’t fear to receive Christ in yourselves and to leave yourselves to his power (…) Open, open your doors wide for Christ! His saving power, open the borders of state for it, the borders of the political and economic systems, of the huge domain of culture, civilization, development. Don’t fear! Christ knows, what is going on in people, and he alone knows it”

John Paul II in October 1978


Don’t show any fear, open the doors and open yourself!

As no other pope before him, John Paul II made his person to a public person. As director and actor he counted on the power of gestures and words. His public appearance was always exactly dramaturgically planned beforehand. He knew how to create emotions.


The open embrace as a symbol of his work constitutes the architectonic backbone of the complex in the present project.

As he placed great importance on symbolic work, the present project is a built narrative gesture of the person John Paul II.

The human skeleton builds a cross consisting of his shoulder and pelvic girdle. This form of a cross can explicitly be seen if a human being opens his/her arms. With this gesture they also become a sign for love. Thus, man becomes a symbol for Christ’s love, who opened his arms on the cross.


“If you open your arms, you will stand as cross in front of the world”

Quoted: Christine Busta


The Embrace as System of Coordinates and Cosmic Symbol

The open embrace as a symbol oft a system of coordinates. A symbol of the cosmic cross!


No pope before has travelled as much as John Paul II. This is also a clear political legacy.

The nations of the world are symbolized by windows in the façade – as it were a white “dress” – like pearls on the robe -, which send their light into the chapel in the evening and where they are bundled and reflected to heaven – the eternity.

The beams of light are inscribed as “cosmic equation” into this place and will place as “system of coordinates” in a relativistic society a spacial adequate gesture in cosmopolitan Europe, to which the actual form John Paul II. had contributed so much by his work.


John Paul II:

“… history of mankind naturally develops in horizontal dimensions in space and time, but at the same time it is suffused with a vertical dimension. Because it is not the  human beings alone who write history …”


Each place may be described in a geographic way by its coordinates. Thus, the cross had been used thousands of years ago. John Paul II now states the position of this coordinates.

At the place Lagiewniki – which also played an important role in John Pau Il’s history – his legacy is clearly determined by its position. By his work, John Paul II leaves a pattern for orientation (system of coordinates), which defines its position at this place with its highly symbolic nature.


We interpret the connection of horizontal and vertical as this system of coordinates, which becomes manifest as embrace in a building, a symbol for the cosmic cross.





Project Name:

John Paul II Center


Krakau, Polen


City of Krakau




Gernot Ritter, Veronika Hofrichter-Ritter, Martin Ritter, Christian Freissling

Structural Engineering:

Peter Mandl and Partners ZT GmbH