Jensen & Skodvin. Mortensrud Church – Let There be Light

Mortensrud Church is a unconventional and beautiful stone church- a nature cathedral where the architects have integrated nature in the construction of slate, glass and steel. What impressed me most about this church is its respect towards nature. According to Jensen & Skodvin Arkitekter, the architects of the church, people will disappear but nature is permanent. Therefore, the architects tried so hard to protect the landscape from damage of construction activities. In the end, the church is an addition to the existing ground, no blasting and excavation was necessary except carefully removing the thin layer of soil. At the same time, a number of trees are preserved in atria within the enclosure.

There are two layers of the wall in this church: the inside wall made of stone and the glass wall outside. Trough the interstices between the stones light falls into the interior.  Tilt steel columns are used to support the stone wall, and the angles of inclination of these columns are varies.


Light is a significant topic in this church. One way to use the light is letting the natural light come through the wall. Behind the altar is the stone wall, where the light sneaks into the interior through the small openings.

The big stone comes into the floor of the church, which enables the boundary between inside and outside to be vague. When I walked on the stone “island”, I wondered if I was still in the interior of the room. This kind of experience reversed my original perception of space. Then I went outside- into the courtyard, I felt like the small garden was one important part of the church. This blurred boundary reminds me of the Suzhou Garden in China, where the eastern philosophy is used to build relationship between architecture and nature.

Quietness is a good word to describe the character of Mortensrud Church. I could imagine, when the light is coming through the wall, when the priest is reading the Bible, when people are chanting, this church can be the most sacred but humble place in the world.