Våler is a small town along the Glomma River. The church cemetery is one of the few planned areas in the city center, and when the old church of the 19th century burned down in 2009, people felt the loss very deeply. The almost impossible task of the new church was to recreate the lost space as a framework for significant events in the lives of local people.
The expression of the buildings was generated as a direct response to the place and was organized around a quadrant with four oriels pointing north, south, east and west, as an analogy of the old cross church.The main story of the liturgy has become the narrative of the church: from fire to resurrection.The new church is placed on the existing processional axis, and is covered in a straight pinewood core, which reflects the local forest landscape.
Due to the weather, the facades darken slowly before returning to nature.Every fifty years, the wooden facade will be renewed and the church will be resurrected as new for each newborn generation.The interior is covered with birch plywood.
The artistic elaboration in the interior seeks to “eradicate” the reality of the supporting structure and achieve an expression of lightness.The towers mark the main liturgical spaces, the church hall and the baptistery, which rise from a common concrete pedestal, the “bedrock” of the church.The footprint of the old church crossed, became a memorial like a large tomb in the center of the old cemetery.
Behind the memorial stands the new church. The new church is built as a cultural space and an open-minded meeting place for the entire Våler community.The theme of the new church thus became a resurrection.Together with the artist, Espen Dietrichson, the architect worked with different elements to manifest the theme through the project.
The most important element is the work with natural light that comes to the church from different diurnal openings.This symbolizes hope, and that light defies the darkness, after the tragic loss of the old church.The shapes of the building are designed by strict geometrical rules.The plan is quadratic and is divided by an axis of diagonal procession that goes from a small chapel, located to the south, and towards the main hall of the church located to the north.
Two towers show where the liturgical points are placed in the church.The tallest tower is 24 meters high and the small tower is 12 meters high.The towers have lights at the top, which allow a view of the public towards the sky.
At the same time, the spotlights allow daylight to enter the rooms.In the plan, the trace of the old church is reconstructed to make a memorial.The old church rests among the tombs in the old cemetery.
Project Name: Church of Våler
Architect: Espen Surnevik
Collaborator Structural Engineering: Dr. Techn. Kristoffer Apeland AS
Artist: Espen Dietrichson (1976)
Contractor: Martin M. Bakken AS
Location: Våler, Norway
Surface: 950 m2
Photography: Rasmus Norlander and Michel Vo