Henning Larsen has won a competition to design Højvangen Church, the first church to be built in Skanderborg Parish in over 500 years. The new intervention, set to be completed and inaugurated by December 2024, will be a new public gathering point in the growing residential area of Højvangen in Skanderborg, Denmark.
Imagined byHenning Larsen, the new 1,500 m2 (16,146 ft2) Højvangen Church pays tribute “to the local landscape and the Danish building tradition, while also paving the way for a more modern church experience”. Drawing from the company’s experience in creating sacred spaces, most recently at the Herlev Hospital Center for Contemplation and Faith, as well as Enghøj Church and the Ringsted Communal Crematorium, the winning proposal puts in place “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. -- partner Nina la Cour Sell.
Designed as a squared pavilion from the outside, with an activated façade on all sides, the project is connected to an existing church center through a partially underground corridor. The colonnaded “backside” façade takes on covered seating niches while its undulating form changes in appearance according to the time of day and lighting conditions.
With no front or back, this nontraditional religious space has only one fixed element, a baptismal font in the middle, forming a natural center from which there is a view of the forest, the church tower, the cemetery, and the existing church building. Flexible, 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. Using traditional materials such as brick, oak, and brass, the project generates “a peaceful and timeless atmosphere, ensuring the church’s longevity in the community for generations”.
In a simple and convincing way, the proposal combines the program’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. -- The jury review.
The winning competition proposal by Henning Larsen was made in close collaboration with Architect Espen Surnevik, Schul Landskab, and Rambøll. Other proposals included projects 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.