MORTENSRUD KIRKE

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Jensen & Skodovin Architects (1998 – 2002)

 

You can find this wonderful church a short walk away from the little village of Mortensrud, in the outskirts of Oslo. If you didn’t know it is there, it is possible you would walk by without taking notice. It is situated on the top of a small crest with large pine trees and some exposed rock and it is completely integrated in its environment, an addition to the existing ground. Every natural element is treated with total respect. No blasting or excavation were used, which made easier to preserve the existing vegetation and topography.

(2) Elevation(3)

The building consists of two volumes: the church to the north and the parish center to the south, connected with a church ground. Most of the trees were preserved and integrated within the atria and entrance ground. Some of the rock formations also emerge inside through the concrete floor of the church.

The budget was very tight so, to get this building realized, the architects had to use every possibility they could think of to get more out of less. This was achieved mainly by avoiding conventional constructive systems for facades, structures, walls, floors, etc. Rather they used very basic methods and techniques, which surprisingly resulted, not only to be cheaper, but also gave a greater architectural freedom. For example, the absence of a module and the large tolerances those techniques allow, made possible the introducing the existing trees and stones in the design.

Another thing that stands out, apart from the relation with the landscape, is the contrast of the used materials. The main structure of the church is a framework of welded steel profiles stabilized by horizontal beams, filled with a slate stone wall. Wrapping it, about a meter off the stone wall, a glass façade defines a narrow gallery around the church room.

The handcrafted light grey slate bricks have a smooth and an uneven side: the smooth side facing inwards, while the uneven side is visible from the outside through the glass. This generates a fascinating and brutal contrast between the fragile glass and the carelessly stacked stone mass.

Moreover, the stone in this wall is built without mortar and the pieces are slightly separated, in order to let filtered light through. It creates, at the same time, a natural and mystic environment inside, and also makes the wall suddenly seem frail in contrast to the steel columns that define the space.

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This church offers a breathtaking experience. It is wonderful and bright. When you enter it, you have a sense of coming home and, at the same time, it gives the impression of something sacred. It perfectly relates with nature, while evoking tradition and culture.


Image sources:

  • Montesrud Kirke. Exterior view; visitoslo.com; retrieved 24th of October 2015
  • Montesrud Kirke. Elevation; archdaily.com; retrieved 24th of October 2015
  • Montesrud Kirke. Interior image; archdaily.com; retrieved 24th of October 2015
  • Montesrud Kirke. Interior image; archdaily.com; retrieved 24th of October 2015