in tribute to danish building tradition, henning larsen architects designs its højvangen church, the first church to be built in the area in over 500 years. sited in skanderborg, denmark, the structure will mark a new public gathering space to accomodate the growing residential area. while celebrating traditional architecture and building methods, the project will pave the way for a more modern experience. flexible spaces can host either religious ceremonies or community events to inspire new ways of using a church and expand its typical programming.
images courtesy of henning larsen architects
henning larsen architects‘ proposal for the højvangen church stands as a unanimously selected winning competition entry. while the panel consisted of both professional judges and community members from the skanderborg parish, the project is both design-minded and community-focused. henning larsen partner nina la cour sell comments: ‘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.‘
from the outside, the højvangen church appears as a squared pavilion, connected to the already existing church center through a partially underground corridor. contrary to the traditional church nave, højvangen has no apparent front or back. rather, the baptismal font in the middle is the only permanent fixture, forming a natural center from which there is a view of the forest, the church tower, the cemetery, and the existing church building. 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. traditional materials such as brick, oak and brass create a peaceful and time- less atmosphere, ensuring the church’s longevity in the community for generations.
henning larsen activates the facade of its højvangen church’s on all sides, with covered seating niches set into the colonnaded ‘backside’ façade. from here, visitors and worshipers can take a secluded moment to seek peace, have a conversation, or just look out onto nature. the undulating façade changes in appearance according to the time of day and lighting conditions. outside, a landscaped park and a courtyard provide space for outdoor activities and events for the local residents.
the competition proposal has been made in close collaboration with architect espen surnevik, schul landskab and rambøll. henning larsen draws on decades of experience designing churches and religious building in denmark, including most recently at the herlev hospital center for contemplation and faith, as well as enghøj church and the ringsted communal crematorium.