Erling Viksjø. Bakkehaugen Church- Abstracting the traditional Norwegian stave church


Bakkehaugen Church is located in Tåsen, Oslo. The architect, Erling Viksjø, is the same one that designed the government building complex. At first the selected architect was not him, the architect that won the competition died early and Erling took over the project, redrew and simplified the building. In the 20th century, churches went from being Sunday churches to multi-use buildings. The materials used to build the also changed, many into concrete, but this building perfectly balanced between the traditional and the modern.


The pure triangular shape really shocked me when I first saw the church. This triangular section is a simplified version of the traditional Norwegian church section, but it is not that easy to execute so. In this building there is no traditional column and ceiling, the structure is a pure concrete slabs.


The experience of space in the church was magnified when I sat on a bench in the nave, looking at the gap between the roof and the wall. To make the triangular wall stand without other support, Erling made it into a three dimensional wall. It is a smart design because you will not realize the wall consists of two walls until you look it carefully. The gap is covered with stained glass, just like traditional churches do, yet giving us an absolutely new feeling.


What attracts me even more is the tight cooperation between the architect and the artist. The artistic ornamentation on the wall were done by the Norwegian artists Kai Fjell and Carl Nesjar. Normally this kind of mural are introduced after the building is finished, but  in this case, the artists were involved before the building design was finished. From the interior, we can find that the candle holder in the mural has natural light coming through, just like real candles have lights.