This charming little church in Elspeet, Netherlands was built completely from reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood. In earlier times Mennonite churches were kept hidden and inconspicuous, and they featured a simple design with very little decoration or adornment. In keeping with that traditional spirit, FARO Architecten created a simple volume with some contemporary updates, incorporating several sustainable strategies to appeal to modern sensibilities.
Back in the day, Mennonite churches were simple sheds designed to not look like a church so as to avoid suspicion. As such, the interiors were usually sober and pure without distractions or adornments. This was also a way to enhance concentration and togetherness.
When FARO Architecten began to design this church, they wanted to keep with the spirit of the original churches, but give it a twist. The barn-like building expands in the middle to give it a contemporary look, and the narrow entrance opens up into a wide gathering space with a glass facade. One side of the building can open up to allow for outdoor gatherings when the weather is good.
The building is made completely from wood and the interior is finished with floor boards that were recycled from an old convent. The exterior is covered in shingles made of French acacia harvested from sustainable forests, and the front facade is native oak. Flax was used to insulate the walls and the roof, while the entire building is heated using thermal storage. The simple church will be used for gatherings and church functions, with a high priority towards hospitality. Open 24 hours a day, the church is meant for anyone to visit and find peace.
Images ©Hans Peter Föllmi courtesy of FARO Architecten