St.Hallvard Kirke og Kloster

2

by Robert Blödorn

Architect: Lund & Slaatto

built from 1959-1966

Church | Monastry

 

H I S T O R Y
The catholic church of St.Hallvard was built from 1959 to 1966, it is situated in Enerhaugen in the multi-cultural district of Grønland, Oslo. The plans were drawn by Kjell Lund and Nils Slaatto. It is the main church of the largest current parish of Roman Catholic Church in Norway counting about 12 000 members. Besides the church they built a monastery of Franciscan fraternity, who administrated the church until 2008. The church is named after the patron Oslo, St.Hallvard, who was murdered in the 12th century, and today he is found on the coat of arms of Norway’s capital.

A R C H I T E C T U R E
The geometric cube was placed in the middle of high-rise housing estates, designed by Lund & Slaatto as well. It claims not to dominate the surrounding buildings, yet the used materials is very rough: exposed concrete, bricks and glass bricks. The cube surrounds the circular nave and the a rectangular chapel, which are invisible from the outside. The exterior shape is defined by massive orthogonal orientated walls. Only the south-west façade is open and opened by glass. Here the architects placed the rooms for the priest or monks. 3The architectural imagination sees the round nave as the community of believers in front of the altar, the benches are not circularly orientated, they face in straight rows towards the altar. Above the altar there is the highest point of the ceiling in the church in opposition to the low ceiling in the center of the circle, which symbols the near to god of the parish. There is no serious opening, which allows light incidence. The only natural light is coming through the glazed entrance opening, this is why there is a need of artificial lightning. The roof is a shell, which is concave bending downwards.

C ON T E X TExcursion_StHallvard
The experience of this space, the prudent use of openings, the use of material and the curvature of the ceiling reminds us of LeCorbusier with his Ronchamp church “Notre Dame du Haut” built in 1955, an icon of the modern architecture, reinventing form and revolutionizing the tradition of church architecture. At the same time Lund & Slaatto were building St.Hallvard, they designed “Chateau Neuf” in Oslo- based on the same design concept, of the cylinder inside a cube. These forms are supposed to be the connection between the human-made or the earthly square and the cleric circle. It was already used by the analysis of the human proportion, called the “Vitruvian Man” by Leonardo DaVinci.

E X P E R I E N C E
When you step into St.Hallvard church, you feel protected and safe. Irrespective of the massive and huge shape of the building you feel comfortable. The lack of light lead you into another sphere, another world. When you sit underneath the concave dome 2m above your head, you feel uneasy yet guarded the same time. It is understandable when you feel more close to god, you are fading out the rest of the world, mainly because you cannot look out. The materials of construction implicate a rough, bare and original feeling, in which you feel fortune in faith.

Sources: St.Hallvard Kirke og Kloster, Lund & Slaatto, Arfo, 1997
http://sthallvard.katolsk.no/dok/sthallvard-deu.pdf, 18.9.2015
Pictures: www.visitnorway.no, www.havran.no, www.byggutengrenser.no