Reawakened: Våler Church in Norway
Client: Våler Church Council
Architect: Espen Surnevik
Location: Vålgutua 199, 2436 Våler i Solør (NO)
Våler lies northeast of Oslo on the banks of the Glomma River. The building site of the church, which was completed in 2015, is in the centre of the village and at the edge of the cemetery grounds. A few metres away, the cruciform foundation of the burnt-down Mariakirk has been preserved as a place of remembrance. The decision to build outside the foundation walls of the old church meant that the area of the new structure could be significantly larger than that of its predecessor.
The sculptural shape of the Våler church consists of simple geometric bodies that vary in size and orientation. Two vertical towers shaped like pyramid frusta rise as high as 24 m. The result is a diverse roofscape of steep angles. A façade of wooden slats covers the entire structure. The weathered wood is to be replaced every 50 years, so that every generation of the congregation can experience the reawakening of the church.
The square floor plan is roughly divided into four areas: church, congregation hall, baptistry and administration. Jutting alcoves with extensive glazing offer views of the surrounding green space and the cemetery. The interplay between interior and exterior creates a direct connection to nature.
The high point of the interior design is the main church area, whose lofty height and elaborately modelled window shapes create a unique atmosphere with dynamic plays of light and shade. Artworks by Espen Dietrichson complete the sacred character of the space.
Apart from religious services, classical concerts and other community events regularly take place in the church.