The 1,500 m2 (16,146 ft2) church is a tribute to the local landscape and the Danish building tradition, while also paving the way for a more modern church experience. Flexible spaces that can form a backdrop for both religious ceremonies as well as community events inspire new ways of using the church and expand its typical functions.
“With the new church in Højvangen, we want to be true to the theological tradition and at the same time reinterpret the church as a destination for present and future needs; a place that can accommodate both everyday life and celebrations, joy and mourning across generations,” says partner Nina la Cour Sell.
Among proposals from Friis & Moltke Architects, E + N Arkitektur and Reiulf Ramstad Arki-tekter, a judging panel consisting of both professional judges and members of Skanderborg Parish Council unanimously selected Henning Larsen's proposal as the winner of the competition.
“In a simple and convincing way, the proposal combines the programme's vision of an open church with a focus on community and flexibility, which at the same time offers a framework for a sacred and unique spatial experience in connection with religious activities. The main church room is more "a clearing" in the building than an actual room and can be used in multiple ways. At the same time, the architecture naturally ensures a good balance between the large community and privacy,” explains the jury review.
Contrary to the traditional church nave, Højvangen has no apparent front or back. Rather, the baptismal font in the middle is the only permanent fixture, forming a natural center in the room from which there is a view of the forest, the church tower, the cemetery, and the existing church building. The large square church room can be adapted to hold a range of events, with varying degrees of intimacy and openness enabled by the angled wall design. Traditional materials such as brick, oak and brass create a peaceful and timeless atmosphere, ensuring the church’s longevity in the community for generations.
The church’s façade is activated on all sides, with covered seating niches set into the colonnaded “backside” façade. From here, visitors and worshipers can take a secluded moment to seek peace, have a conversation, or just look out onto nature. The undulating façade changes in appearance according to the time of day and lighting conditions. Outside, a landscaped park and a courtyard provide space for outdoor activities and events for the local residents.
The competition proposal has been made in close collaboration with Architect Espen Surnevik, Schul Landskab and Rambøll. Henning Larsen brings decades of experience in designing churches and religious buildings in Denmark, including most recently at Herlev Hospital's Center for Contemplation and Faith, as well as Enghøj Church and Ringsted Communal Crematorium.
Højvangen Church is expected to be inaugurated on the 1st Sunday in Advent 2024.