Religious Buildings winner

Våler Church

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Espen Surnevik

Photos courtesy of Rasmus Norlander

Våler Church

Espen SurnevikarchmarathonEspen Surnevik
sivilarkitekt espen surnevik as Maridalsveien 122 0461 Oslo, Norway
Religious Buildings
Project selected:
Våler Church
Våler, Norway
Winner of Religius Building category

Jury motivation: A strong architecture form and a great spiritual quality to the different spaces.

The open international competition for Våler church is one of the largest in Norway ever, with 239 proposals from 23 countries. The competitions winner proposal was finished in spring 2015.
Våler is a small village along the Glomma River.
The churchyard is one of the few planned areas of the town centre, and when the old 19th Century church burned down in 2009, people felt the loss very keenly.
The all but impossible task of the new church was to recreate the lost space as a frame for significant events in local people’s lives.
The buildings expression was generated as a direct response to the place, and organised around a quadrant with four oriels pointing north, south, east and west, as an analogy to the old cross-church.
The main story of the liturgy has become the narrative of the church: from fire to resurrection. The new church is placed on the existing processional axis, and clad in straight board of heartwood pine, reflecting the local forest landscape. The natural facades have a long local tradition. Due to climate they slowly get darker before ending up going back to nature. Every fifty years the façade-wood will be renewed and the church will resurrect as new for every new-born generation.
The interior is covered in birch plywood. The artistic elaboration in the interior seeks to “eradicate” the reality of the loadbearing structure and achieve an expression of lightness. The towers mark the main liturgical spaces, the church hall and the baptistery, rising from a common cast concrete plinth, the “bedrock” of the church.
The footprint of the old cross-church, were made into a memorial as a big grave in the middle of the old graveyard. Behind the memorial the new church rises up. The new church is built as a cultural arena, and open minded gathering-place for the whole community of Våler.

(ratings closed)