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Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Denmark Architecture News - Oct 06, 2022 - 15:34   1376 views

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Danish architecture practice Henning Larsen has won a competition to design a new church for Denmark's capital, which will be Copenhagen's first new church in over 30 years built in wood.

Henning Larsen won the competition in collaboration with Copenhagen-based architecture studio Platant and Danish engineering and consultancy firm Ramboll.

Called Ørestad Church, the new building, located in the Ørestad city, is set to be built as a new meeting place at a clearing in the trees. 

The project, composed of an example of low-res volumes with tapered roofs to evoke the feeling of "standing under a canopy of trees in a forest." 

The church is made of wood and wood shingle, aiming to reflect the nature of Ørestad’s open landscape, embracing the community and its surroundings.

Henning Larsen creates an inverted façade design that creates protrusions within the deep church walls, an extroverted space for the community.

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

"The intention is to create a church that can command attention, untouched by the bustle of the city, filled with spaces of distinguished simplicity that offer residents solace from their everyday life," said Jacob Kurek, Global Design Director, Henning Larsen.  

"Tasked with designing a building that lingers in your mind, we have chosen to create a building that sits in complete harmony with its surroundings," Kurek added.

The design team chooses to form a striking sculptural roof that become a new sustainable landmark and mark a natural meeting place for the local community.

Thanks to the wooden-domed roofs of Ørestad Church, the natural light enters in through light cascades.

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

"Stepping into the church, the connection to nature will ignite people’s spirituality. The chapel is bathed in light from above and opens up the view of the sky, drawing people’s gaze," Kurek continued. 

"The hall is the clearing in the forest, where the light is refracted in a variety of ways throughout the day and year. Building in wood and harnessing the power of the light was the obvious solution, for the climate, for the context and for the community," Kurek added.

The team also plays with the character of the façade of the church, the façade design is rough, like bark on a tree and changes character through the seasons and over time. 

The church is connected to its surroundings by a continuous brick floor of various tones and glazing, referencing fallen leaves, that rises to become benches, sitting niches and podiums – the path from the city and the common lead directly into the church.

"We have great expectations that the new church will become a meeting point for both the parish and the community in Ørestad. It has been our goal to create a sustainable church that is completely its own and contributes to Ørestad's tradition of experimenting with the built environment," said Nina la Cour Sell, Design Director, Henning Larsen.

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Taking sustainability principles into the core of the project, the studio worked with a community consultation team, who informed the studio on the types of programming the building will house.

Conceived as a flexible church room, the main room can be adapted to hold a range of services and ceremonies. Besides it main function, it also holds a chapel, a shielded courtyard, a church office, and informal cultural spaces that can be used for communal eating, small concerts, yoga, dancing, or lectures.

Although the church has an inverted façade, the façade is activated on all sides to act like an urban shelf with seating niches, a book exchange, a drinking fountain and games and chess tables. 

The design of the church "references cloister gardens and the church's building protects the courtyard but lets the light fall from above". The shady corners give way to a garden where visitors can sit for quiet reflection.

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Ground floor plan

The landscape consists of grasses, herbaceous perennials and cherry trees inspired by the nearby Amager Fælled – a protected natural area. 

Proposals by high-profiled teams, including Lundgaard & Tranberg, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, Konsordium OOPEAA:WE, and Cobe were among competing projects. 

Henning Larsen's proposal was selected as the winner by a judging panel consisting of both professional judges and members of Islands Brygge Parish Council.

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Axonometric drawing

Construction is expected to start in 2024, and the church will be consecrated in 2026.

Henning Larsen have decades of experience in designing churches and religious buildings in Denmark, including most recently Højvangen Church set to open in 2024, Herlev Hospital's Center for Contemplation and Faith, as well as Enghøj Church and Ringsted Communal Crematorium.  

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Concept Diagrams

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Site section

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

Section

Henning Larsen to design wooden church that features tapered volumes in a forest of Copenhagen

South elevation

Henning Larsen transformed an old Swedish town hall with light-lit inner courtyard in Uppsala, Sweden, and completed an all-timber experience center for World of Volvo in native Swedish landscape.

Project facts

Project: New parish church

Place: Copenhagen, Denmark

Year: 2022-2026

Size: 2100 m2 

Client: Islands Brygges Parish

Sustainability: DGNB Gold

Architect: Henning Larsen 

Landscape: Henning Larsen          

Engineer: Ramboll

Community Engagement: Platant

All renders © Vivid Vision

All drawings © Henning Larsen. 

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