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"Ethics and aesthetics are one," Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889 – 1951

Open dojo

For one’s soul. Everyone is welcome.

Monday: 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Tuesday: 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Thursday: 9.00 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.
Friday: 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.


A place for silent exercise and a companion

Dō (道) means “way, pursuit” and Jō (場) “a place”. In Japan, the word “dojo” refers to the halls where martial arts are practised and the halls in Zen monasteries where meditation takes place.

The dojo – the former Trinity Church – is in the middle of the old centre of the Cologne-Ossendorf district. It was a small post-war Protestant church that was a feature of the townscape for decades. Converting the church to a dojo saved it from being demolished.

Church dojo


Built between 1961 and 1963. A single-nave church with a gallery for the organ and choir. A skeleton structure made of reinforced concrete, lined with white sand-lime bricks. One large frosted glass window to the east and one to the west. An aisleless church whose simplicity can scarcely be surpassed. Architect: Georg Rasch.

Over time, oak parquet flooring and wooden ceilings were added. The frosted glass windows were replaced with colourful stained glass. Trinity Church was deconsecrated in March 2019.

An architectural symbol

The aisleless church – a primeval form of Christian sacred building – symbolises modesty and the unity of people: a hall for all.

Shortly before the deconsecration

Respectful transformation

My respect for the spiritual task of transforming a western sacred building into a practice space for eastern meditation prompted me to ask Professor Paul Böhm (architect) for advice. I asked and commissioned him to take over the structural and artistic design of the new dojo.

With a lot of sensitivity and respect for the existing building, the church was transformed into a dignified aikido dojo using wood and plaster – simple yet striking.

It’s a dojo that invites silence, offers grounding and, at the same time, opens your senses.

Open Swiss pine woodwork


Ethics need space: A dojo is basically a large empty space that is open up wide – and here in this dojo also upwards – and so visibly creates space for physical and mental movement.

A luxury in our busy lives full of things and issues.

Zen aesthetics

All the rooms – from the exercise room to the showers – are designed to be simple, clear and natural. Even the technology is kept to a bare minimum. However, it is modern and solid.

It doesn't take much to practise aikido. But the little it does require is cared for with a lot of love and dedication. This ideal of keeping things to a minimum required some careful planning and execution. Every component is important. Even that which isn’t visible can still be sensed.

Empty space

Wabi-Sabi (侘寂)

It’s not just the building that has a past. A lot from my two previous dojos has moved here with me. Such as the frame that holds the mats together. Or the brown bookshelf for valuables in the practice room. Or the coat hooks in the changing rooms. They’ve been part of the training schedule since the first day of training in February 1985. Their constant use over this long period of time has left its mark: simple things with sentimental value.

Details that contribute to the spirit of the dojo.

Men’s changing room
Meditative route to the changing rooms
Drinking water, bench


Preserving and converting rather than demolishing was less harmful for the climate. Also, thanks to the engineer Holger Reif and the company Theod. Mahr, the heating of the former church is now green and affordable(!).


  • The roof was insulated to a first-class standard – also providing protection from the heat in summer.
  • Numerous windows were replaced.
  • A clean slate: the old, dilapidated and energy-guzzling heating system was carefully dismantled. As was a huge forgotten oil tank in a subcellar.

Perfect interplay

  • Two ultra-modern biomass heating systems with excellent fine dust filters and very low energy consumption,
  • combined with a solar thermal system and
  • two big energy storage tanks (water).

A coordinated system with an excellent ecobalance: the clean burning of pellets* + the power of the sun + the ability of water to store heat!

* Pellets: small, cylindrical bodies made from residual wood such as sawdust and shavings, which are a by-product of wood processing. Short distances and production save resources. Heating with pellets is regarded as climate-neutral

The practice room challenge

The most challenging heating task: the practice room, the room where church services used to take place. A high ceiling, large leaded windows. It looks great, but keeping this room warm in winter in an energy-efficient way, handling the many Swiss stone pine latticework wood panels carefully while, at the same time, not disturbing the aesthetics of the empty space was quite a feat in itself. The solution:

  • the expertise of the experienced church heating company. It embedded three heating stations in the floor next to the mat with millimetre precision. They produce warm air with hot water. A quiet, cleverly programmed air recirculation system with filters for fine dust and pollen.
Practice room


As we work our way from the interior to the exterior, you can currently see the new red roof, the plastered gables painted dark grey, 11 new windows, the protective glazing in front of the resurrection window that has been replaced and the new entrance: a heavy, Japanese-style wooden door with a canopy.

The bulky, outdated canopy over a pathway on the forecourt has been dismantled. The old main portal – now the emergency exit – has been preserved, finely sanded down, refurbished and has had frosted glass panes added on the left and right sides of it. The staircase in the church tower was closed off; the covering of the church square taken up and replaced with 120 tonnes of topsoil.

Wood, metal, stone


Paul Böhm and I would like to generate the refined atmosphere found inside outside, too. The next step is to calm the façade and redesign the former church square:

  • The façade of the dojo is to be painted with an eggshell-coloured slurry seal.
  • A simple green garden. In it  a path that’s intended to help you let go of your everyday life.
  • On this path, there will be an inviting spiritual waiting arbour (machiai, 待合).
A wildflower meadow is sown.
Plan as of 4/2024


I’d be delighted if our plan to build a dojo garden with a spiritual waiting arbour could receive some further support.


Dirk Kropp, Aikido üben
IBAN: DE51 3705 0198 0002 9926 26
Reason for payment: Donation to construct a dojo garden.

A contribution receipt for the tax office cannot be issued.


Samu (作務) refers to the maintenance work required to keep a dojo running, e.g. vacuuming the mat, cleaning the floors, minor repairs and gardening. In Japan, samu is part of people’s meditative practice and serves the common good: Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.


I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the many practitioners from our dojo, alumni and neighbours who support and have supported me in all this in their own personal way. A project like this draws and develops its strength from such broad solidarity.

  • Countless hours spent on the building site, in the garden or in the background.
  • €170.010,09 in donations.

Protestant parish of Bickendorf

  • Paid for the remediation of pollutants and the repair of the sewer system and helped towards the cost of protective glazing (resurrection window) and the unsealing of the former church square.

State climate funding

  • €93.258,00 for the systematic renovation of the heating technology and roof

City of Cologne

  • €9.205,20 for improving the local urban climate.
Heike Deus-Böhm, Ursula Weiser, Dirk Kropp, Paul Böhm


90 tradespeople, engineers and technicians have been involved in converting the old church so far.

Architekturbüro Paul Böhm,
Holger Reif, Ekoplan,
Architekturbüro Stefan Frenken,
Patrick Posielski, P2 Brandschutz,
Sakosta, Schadstoff-Gutachter,
Multitech, Umwelttechnik,
Markus Breuer Elektrotechnik,
Putz & Stuck, Daniel Dibke,
Tischlerei Heinrich Müller,
Gerüstbau Christian Eggert,
Jens Peter Reichert, PR Licht,
Schmidt Licht,
Seeger, architektonisches Licht,
Norka, Industriebeleuchtung,
Florian Kick, Emit,
Theod. Mahr Söhne, Kirchenheizung,
Lindholm, Denkmalpflege,
Josef Frings, Sanitär-Heizung,
Villeroy und Boch,
Diabos, Beton-Bohrungen,
Wüst Isolierungen,
Mario Krech, MK Bau,
Fußbodentechnik Schmitz,
Gerflor, Bodenbeläge,
Schlosserei Franke,
Giovanni Noé, Rohrreinigung,
N. Barsuhn – Versetzen von Schwergut,
Michels Raumideen,
Little Green,
Sonnen Herzog,
Keim, Mineralfarbe,
Jochen Urbach,
Guido Jüsgen, Schornsteinfegermeister,
Christian Schmitt, Schornsteinfegermeister,
Derix Glasstudios,
Lukas Roth, Fotografie,
Antik Acente,
Kettemer & Lange,
gbk Teamplan,
Abbruch Dratschmidt,
Heilkräuter Hedda Edel​​​​​​​,
Gärtnermeister Marcus Nitsche​​​​​​​,



Marlis Wodara, Lukas Roth, Dirk Kropp

Photo documentation of the “conversion”

by Marlis Wodara, as of May 2022:


  • Artikel, 22. Jan. 24, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger u. Kölnische Rundschau
  • Interview, 4/23, Paul Böhm und Dirk Kropp von Felix Hemmers in Kunst und Kirche
  • Podcast, 11. Okt. 23, von Claudia Friedrich, für WDR 3 Radio ‚Mosaik‘
  • Blogbeitrag, 10. Okt. 23, Claudia Friedrich
  • Feature, 13. Aug. 23, von Norman Laryea, für WDR 3 Fernsehen ‚Aktuelle Stunde‘
  • Artikel, 12. Juli 23, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger u. Kölnische Rundschau
  • Tag der Architektur, 17./18. Juni 23‚ ‚Architektur verwandelt‘
  • Podcast, 14. Juni 23, von Cornelia Wegerhoff, für WDR 3 Radio ‚Mosaik‘
  • Artikel, 26. März 23, von Felix Hemmers auf BAUKULTUR NRW, Zukunft-Kirchen-Räume
  • Artikel, 1. Juli 22, von Angelika Stahl im Express die Woche
  • Artikel, 24. Juni 22, Roland Friedrich „Die Glasmalerin Ingrid Vetter-Spilker“, im Schau dich um
  • Artikel, 2. Juni 22, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
  • Artikel, 18. Mai 22, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lieb auf Transara, Universität Bonn
  • Interview, 18. Mai 22, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lieb im Domradio
  • Artikel, 14. Okt. 21, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
  • Artikel, 16. April 21, von Angelika Stahl im Kölner Wochenspiegel
  • Artikel, 21. Jan. 21, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
  • Interview, 25. Aug. 20, von Ulrike Hilbrig und Georg Kanonenberg im Gemeindebrief

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