In the Copenhagen suburb of Brønshøj, local architectural practice NORD Architects has completed the Parish Center, a contemporary community center and place of worship that’s primarily built of cross-laminated timber to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Selected for its renewable and durable features, the cross-laminated timber has also been purposefully left exposed throughout the multifunctional building to lend a sense of welcoming and warmth to the interior. The project serves as a gathering space while providing a new connection between the city square and church, which had previously felt cut off from the community.
Officially opened in April 2019 after a five-year process, the Parish Center in Brønshøj arose from a 2015 design competition that named NORD Architects the first place winner. The Danish architects’ winning entry proposed not only a modernized church, but also unifying the church and congregation areas with the city to create a new cultural community center where everyone could feel welcome. Also key to the design was the use of mass timber, also known as cross-laminated timber, to position the building as an example of sustainable architecture in the city. The cross-laminated timber also helps stabilize indoor temperatures, humidity level and acoustics.
“We have designed a multifunctional building that provides an open and welcoming space for flexible usage within a modern parish center that gather people in very varied activities,” said Morten Rask Gregersen, partner at NORD Architects. “The large span of CLT wood accommodates this is one gesture and connects the two opposite outdoor spaces. The church on one side and the city on the other.”
In addition to the predominate use of natural wood inside and out, a sense of welcoming and inclusion is achieved through the shape of the building, which features curved walls that embrace a garden space on a street-facing corner. A quiet pastor garden tucked behind the building provides connection with the neighboring rectory.
Photography by Adam Mørk via NORD Architects