Musical narrative in brick, concrete and wood

In 1968 Jørn Utzon was commissioned to design a new church in Bagsværd, and he asked the local vicar: “How do you make a sacred space?” The vicar replied, “You don’t make a sacred space, it’s consecrated. It can be anywhere - even under a tree, for example.” Thus, Utzon was given free hands to design an unparalleled masterpiece of modern Danish architecture.

In Åbyhøj, a suburb of Aarhus, a new church has been built for the evangelical church Aarhus Valgmenighed. It could never be described as a traditional church building, but rather an informal meeting place for people who share the same faith and the same values. From the outside, the building resembles an impressive sculpture made of red brickwork with many fine details. FlexStone bricks have been used, which are smaller than standard-sized bricks and open up for a wealth of innovative brick bonding patterns.

The new church building was designed by the architect Kjeld Ghozati MAA from E+N Arkitektur.  Kjeld Ghozati is strongly inspired by Jørn Utzon – both in his innovative approach to building technology and his principles for creating expressive designs through introducing small variations in identical elements.  Kjeld Ghozati calls it ‘musical structuralism’. The FlexStone format is also his invention.

The Great Narrative

The church hall was completed in 2010. The church itself actually looks quite raw. Immediately following its construction, it had an almost ascetic feel to it, like a high-ceilinged warehouse. In 2015, a wide glulam balcony was added with extra seating on the first floor, and also a classroom.

The raw concrete structures are softened by natural wood coloured Troldtekt acoustic panels with integrated lighting. Wooden strips have been installed between the panels to break the monotony and to create a more refined look.

The painting Den Store Fortælling (The Great Narrative) by Arne Haug Sørensen was unveiled in 2017 in connection with Aarhus as a European Capital of Culture. This marked the final realisation of the architects’ original design.

Facts

Project:
Church built in 2010 for Aarhus Valgmenighed in Åbyhøj, Denmark
Architects:
Exners Tegnestue / E+N Arkitektur
Troldtekt Products
Ceiling panels:
Troldtekt acoustic panels + retrofitted wooden strips as a customised solution
Colour:
Natural wood
Structure:
Ultrafine (1.0 mm wood wool)
Edge design:
5 mm bevelled edges, K5-N
Installation:
Custom solution
Text & Photos
Text:
Thomas Mølvig, architect
Photos:
Thomas Mølvig, architect