Lund & Slaatto. St. Hallvards Kirke – Emod

In a world of bright lights, spectacular scenery and radiant landscapes,
the house of God lies in darkness.
It’s a God of shadows.
It’s a God of silence.

—Marco Ciccone.

St. Hallvards Kirke is a Franciscan monastery built between 1958 and 1966 and with later additions until 1994. The building is located on the heights of one of the hills that make the capital of Norway, in a dominant position with respect to its immediate surroundings.


Contrary to several examples of contemporary churches, where the high and deep walls give way to enormous phantasmagoric views, the church designed by Kjell Lund and Nils Slaatto, collects itself, in a religious gathering from the surrounding city.

Similar from the ouside to the surrounding residential fabric, the church remains hidden to the eye.



Yet, when indoors, the typical dome is in fact overturned inside, shifting the humble perception of the outer surface to a full and terrific presence within.

The site plans is governed by the geometry of the circle and the square.

Around the main cylindrical hall are the monks’ cells that give way to the cubic form in the exterior of the building:


totGrowing between the circular wall of the church and the square base of the perimeter wall of the building.

The façades are distinguished sharply: south and west sides are open to the monks’ cells, giving rise to two extensively glazed façades, while the other two faces have simple vertical cuts that identify the entrances to the church and baptistery.

The circular plan and the offset entry, ensure a scenographic effect in the eyes of those who venture in, a perception driven only by the material and its shape, because of the limited presence of natural light.


The predominant materials are reinforced concrete and brick, two-faced.

The common clay brick spaced a few centimeters apart creates thin shadow lines that seem to run up, as opposed to the usual horizontal movement of the same. This vertical shadows run the entire circumference of the aisle, pausing only to the contact with the cementitious body in the highest point, from which then the shell falls reaching the lowest height at the center of the church.

The distribution of spaces produces a movement that begins from the first step in the doorway, accompanying the faithful to the seats, then keeping them sight fixed on the small altar for the priest .


Thanks to:
Lund & Slaatto. (1997) St Hallvard Kirke og Kloster. Oslo. Arfo.