Porsgrunn Church

Porsgrunn / Norway / 2019

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6 Love 313 Visits Published

The new Church replaces the old Porsgrunn church which was lost in a fire in 2011. The new Church is a "Resurrection Church" that, through light, seeks optimism and new belief in the future after the fatal fire. Based on the local industrial history, of producing porcelain in Porsgrunn, the new church is built in white porcelain that links it to the city's local history. The church’s geometries seek something universal, timeless, eternal, and to create dialogue with the old cemetery's burial monuments designed as archaic obelisks. The building is structured by dense main volumes that appear as closed missives. The volumes of the Church are drawn apart, allowing daylight to come in between them. The Church highlights its constructive beams, in the ceiling, as a visual expression of the earthly and the physics that rules the existence. Daylight is spread across the surfaces of the Church interior as a spiritual expression. The Church’s choir is decorated with a porcelain relief of an angel entering the Church room. A skylight illuminates the choir, and the relief, and places the sacred actions in illuminated focus in the church room.


The construction of Porsgrunn Church represents a several years long, and unique process. Contractors and crafts men have been able to build all the details in the architect drawings for the project with millimetre precision in a way that is unusual in Norway today.
Porsgrunn Church seeks to unite the architectural history, of the classic church, with the modern social Scandinavian “working-Church”. It is made to be suited for the great markings of life, but also for daily community-oriented purposes. The project seeks to explore what the Church building should be for man in our time and our society.


Old Porsgrunn Church burns 2011
At April 11, 2011 the Porsgrunn church burned down to the ground. The old church was from 1760 and had considerable conservation value. The church had been the main church of Porsgrunn for centuries, and the loss aroused many and strong feelings in the city. An extensive local discussion concluded that an architectural competition was held on the construction of an entirely new church. In the spring of 2015 the proposal "reis opp" was chosen as the winner of the competition. The proposal was developed by professor, and architect Espen Surnevik, collaborating with Trodahl Architects. The projects started immediately and lasted until the project was completed in the late autumn of 2019.


The new Porsgrunn Church is a "Resurrection Church"
After the tragic fire, the development of a new church was a challenging task. The old plot was small and beautifully located between historical cemeteries. This required a new church to adapt to the historical footprint left behind from the old Church. Meanwhile, the new church should be able to recreate the significance the old church had previously had for the city's population, it was also a goal to develop a building that could create contemporary cultural values. This in the same way at the old church represented cultural historical values from the 1700 century.


In Christianity, the resurrection is a central theme. This became a conceptual image of how the old church "died", in the fire-night, and how the new church could "be resurrected" in light and return to the city. The resurrection is a tale of hope and faith that, in the architectural sense, invited to develop the new church as a bright and optimistic church. This in contrast to many former churches, as in the Gothic, where daylight was more kept outside a darker Church room. After the tragic fire, the development of a new church was a challenging task. The old plot was small and beautifully situated between different historical cemeteries. This required a new church to adapt to the historical footprint left behind. Meanwhile, the new church should be able to recreate the important significance that the old church had previously had for the city's population. It was also a goal to develop a building that could create cultural values in our day, as the old church represented cultural historical values from the 1700 century.


In Christianity, the resurrection is a central theme. This became a conceptual image of how the old church "died" in darkness and lost fire-night, and how the new church could "be resurrected" in light and return to the city. The Resurrection account is a tale of hope and future faith that in the architectural sense opened to develop the new church as a bright and optimistic church in contrast to many former churches, as in the Gotics, where daylight was more and more kept outside a Down Church room.


The new Porsgrunn Church is built of porcelain
Production of porcelain was the main industry that the city of Porsgrunn was built on. The project was proposed built in porcelain, in all its surfaces inside and outside, to link the project to the city's identity and history. The porcelain tiles are homogeneously white through the material. The white is intended to expression a noble, clean and exalted expression Its also a representation of the old white wooden church that burned.


In the new Porsgrunn Church, geometry is a theme
The old Church in Porsgrunn was, in classical tradition, based on a clarified mathematical module of squares of 4,8 x 4,8m, as well as half modules of 4,8 x 2,4m. Exactly bases on these old modules, the new church was developed. This gave the new building proportions, scale and relationship to the cemetery that reflected the sizes of the old church.
The church building consists of eleven main volumes assembled to surround the church room. These volumes are the Church's load-bearing structure. Between them it spans beams that carry all the different roofs. There is a total of 24 independent and self-draining roofs in the building.


The Church tower is the building's most prominent volume and marks the church in the vast landscape space around Porsgrunn and Skien. The tower's angle of inclination of 3.3 degrees has given the slope to all the rest of the church's volumes. Volumes are made dense, without opening,s to emerge as massive. This with inspiration in the ancient Egyptian obelisks which are located on the 1800-century tombs around the Church. This is an attempted to create a dialogue between the past and the future, with geometry as a tool. The simple geometries are motivated by representing something universal, timeless and eternal where precision in transitions and "zero-points" has been central to express the gestalt of the building. This has also set major demands on building works and details during the construction period.
The various volumes are completed at different heights that express the importance of the functions they accommodate. The tower is highest and express that the building is a Church, viewed from the whole city. Secondly, the choir follows as the second-highest, further twin towers containing Chappell, and then the six side volumes containing, among other things, the sacristy and the organ. At the back is the lowest and least important volume that contains technical spaces.


Structure of the new Porsgrunn Church
All the geometries in the main volumes are drawn in such a way that they mathematically go together, forming a rhythmic structure that runs through the entire Church building. The structure creates space between the volumes, allowing daylight flowing into the Church room. The motivation for the structure is to achieve an interaction between expressions, construction and the functions within the Church. The Church room is thought to be perceived as sitting outside, under a large roof worn by large massives. The structure is designed to facilitate all the function's placed strategically, and easily accessible, around the Church room. In this way, the trivial functions are anonymous, but still accessible, from the sacred Church room.
All Church's main volumes are self-supporting steel structures. They have great constructive capacity and form a rigid system which are stabile in two directions. Between the main volumes its spanning beams that carry all the roofs. The beams are highlighted in both the church's exterior, and in the Church interiors. It has been an intention, in the design, to express the bearing as a reminder of the physical reality we surround ourselves with, the earthly.


Other parts of the building in the new Porsgrunn Church
From the outset, all the Church's main volumes have been thought accompanied by soft, organic building parts made from oak. Doors, suspended ceilings, non-bearing walls and furniture are all made from oak, and in combination with genuine wool fabrics. This to point out a contrast between what does not carry and the bearing, the resistant and the unresistant. Furthermore, the wood is also chosen to give the church a warm touch along with the otherwise cool abstract porcelain surfaces.



Artistic decoration of the new Porsgrunn Church
The Church itself is thought of as a work of art, in addition, the choir is adorned with an over five feet of high embellishment consisting of several hundred pieces of burnt glazed porcelain. The decoration depicts an angel entering the Church room. The frieze relates to the sky over, through a skylight that brings light down over the choir and puts the sacred actions in the centre of the church room.
The porcelain-frieze is made by Norwegian artists Espen Dietrichson and Marie Buskov.



Building process of the new Porsgrunn Church
The construction of Porsgrunn Church represents a several years long, and unique process. The precision of the project would be impossible to implement without the unusual personal dedication of both planners, entrepreneur and contractors. In the execution it has been necessary to put away the Norwegian standard for building tolerances. Contractors and craftsmen have been capable to build the architect drawings for the project with great precision in a way that is unusual in Norway today.


The Norwegian Church is moving into a new era
The Norwegian Church is in continuous change, which also implies that the Norwegian church architecture is changing. Based on the narrow plot in Porsgrunn, the new Church is mainly composed around the traditional church room, but in a modern version which allows flexible and new activities. The church is provided with a large window open up towards society. This to create a dialogue between the Church's inner life and the community outside. The Church can be used for a variety of purposes.


Porsgrunn Church seeks to unite the millennial architectural history of the Church, with the modern social Church. Its created to be a place for the great markings of life, but also a place for the daily community-oriented purposes. The project seeks to explore what the Church should be for man in the Norwegian society today.


 

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    The new Church replaces the old Porsgrunn church which was lost in a fire in 2011. The new Church is a "Resurrection Church" that, through light, seeks optimism and new belief in the future after the fatal fire. Based on the local industrial history, of producing porcelain in Porsgrunn, the new church is built in white porcelain that links it to the city's local history. The church’s geometries seek something universal, timeless, eternal, and to create dialogue with the old cemetery's...

    Project details
    • Year 2019
    • Work started in 2015
    • Work finished in 2019
    • Client The Church municipality of Porsgrunn
    • Contractor Tor Entreprenør AS
    • Cost 4,5mill EUR
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Churches
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