The proposal for the new church in Våler by We Are You plays an important role in the landscape marking a new chapter in the history of Våler and presenting itself as a public meeting place for the people. This is demonstrated through its archetypal form and somewhat enigmatic exterior which create these expectations. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The landscape and the site are central in the experience of the new church of Våler. With this starting point, the church was placed on the eastern side of the site, creating a spatial frame around the site together with the pine tree forest in the north. By separating the programs and creating spaces in between them, transitional rooms and courtyards are created, these spaces in between becomes an important role in the switch from everyday life and the ceremonies. When entering the cemetery, you pass the stone foundation of the old church, which now has become an open place with benches for rest and contemplation. In between the new church and the chapel a courtyard is created where people meet before and after church activities.
You enter the lower part of the church, where wardrobe and bathroom facilities are located, ending up in the indoor “church square”. Here you can sit down in an calm environment with nice views and a fire place, and this is also where the customary church coffee is served after the service. From here you reach the large church room through a passage that ends with large windows in the ceiling. This void of light sharpens the meeting between the two volumes, and creates a sense of openness before entering the actual church room. You pass this light and enter between the large pivoted wooden doors.
The church reaches fifteen meters high, and takes in light through a side gallery and a large vertical window above the altar. The sturdy wooden construction are kept visible from the inside, which characterizes the large room. Floors are made of white glazed brick, and benches of aspen wood.
The free standing bell tower rises on the north side of the site, forming a tall entrance motif. The three brass bells together with the black varnished wooden shingles of the roof makes it a characteristic element in the landscape, visible from highway 20 as well as the center of Våler. At the foot of the tower are benches where passers-by can sit and rest for a while. In the evening the inside of the bell tower is lit, giving light an warmth to the cemetery, and becomes a pleasant destination for the evening stroll. The old church ruin At the site of the old church a new flexible outdoor space is arranged. The old stone foundation is kept, and a new concrete floor and benches are made within the ruin, relating to the layout of the old church. This space can be used for outdoor services, Christmas games, confirmation gatherings, or for visitors who want to sit down in the sun for a while. The trees planted along the old foundation will eventually form a green canopy around and above the ruin.
The object rescued in the fire, and the objects originating from the Maria church are integrated into the new church building. The doors from both churches are hung on the wall in the passage to the large church room. In that way the visitor passes through different historical layers before entering through the doors of the new church of Våler. Across the churchyard lies the burial chapel. Here funeral services and showings are held for the mourners in a calm and private environment, close to the church. You enter first into a small forecourt, with wooden chips on the ground and a view over a small pond. The intention is to create a generous and protected place where mourners can find peace and consolation.
Inside the building is a wardrobe, bathroom facilities and an anteroom where visitors can sit down for a while. The innermost room is where the service is held, and where mourners can visit the deceased. Here you also have a view over the small pond. Light enters through a ceiling window over the seating places. In connection to this room is the storage room and a separate entrance for staff and the coffins. South of the church lies a memorial grove where ash can be strewn. It is composed of a long bench enclosing a group of pine trees.