When a community church burned down in Våler, Norway, the people deeply felt the loss of the structure where so many memories took place. The new ziggurat-like Våler church pays homage to the old 19th-century building while providing the town with a new place to gather. Oslo-based architect Espen Surnevik memorialized the old church with a monument located in the middle of the graveyard.
The competition attracted a record number of proposals – it was one of the largest ever international competitions in Norway, with 239 entries from 23 countries. Espen Surnevik’s winning design envisioned a building with a rectangular layout and four oriels pointing north, south, east and west, referencing the old cruciform church. The new church is placed on the existing processional axis, and clad in straight board of heartwood pine, reflecting the local forest landscape.
The interior is clad in birch plywood. 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. A memorial dominating the old graveyard preserves the memory of the old church and outlines its form.
Photos by Rasmus Norlander