Våler Church

TYPE Church Building
SIZE 895m2
LOCATION Våler, Norway
STATUS Competition entry
CLIENT Våler kommune

TUPELO arkitektur with CASPER MUELLER KNEER Architects, London.

CASPER MUELLER KNEER crew Kyung Tae Jung, Tomas Pohnetal and Marianne Mueller

REINERTSEN crew Sigurdur Gunnarson

TUPELO crew Håkon Follesø, Christoph von Mach, Knut Hovland and Thor Arne Kleppan

The new church is situated on the eastern part of the site. A new central axis is established north of the fire site in extension of the existing gravel path passing the former church. The new axis is chosen for two reasons: to form a new approach towards the new church without interrupting the existing graveyard; to shift the focus from the fire site to the new church.

The proposal is placed on 170m ASL which is the same level as the former church. In order to make the church more visible, the topography around the church creates a pedestal for the building's footprint. The new arrival and parking area is established behind the building on the site of the former maintenance building which will be relocated to the north of the site. 

The remaining foundations of the burnt church will be preserved and transformed into a small garden with gravel paths. The memory of the former church shall continue but the fire site can be more than a sore wound in the community. It can become a new meeting point. The proposed garden is a mixture of annual and long-term plants and flowers and is maintained by the people of Våler. 

The building's formal idea is based on a holistic triangular roof construction which represents the three main elements of the proposal: the bell tower, the church entrance and the main church hall. These three elements underline the symbolic, social and sacral importance.
The floor plan is set together by intersecting rectangles where the main church hall is organized in a cross-plan. Volumetrically, the building is a collection of hierarchical bodies. This hierarchy reflects the sacral and social importance of each single room. The proposal stands out to be both collecting and holistic, yet still offering spaces for a diverse spectrum of activities. 

The main church hall is based on a cross-plan. There is no cross ship, but the side ships have a limited length an thus form this particular plan. The church space is 24m long and 20m wide. The benches can follow the geometry of the roof structure but can also form less formal patterns. Liturgics are emphasized with overall high proximity to the altar and good view axis. Natural daylight floods the room through window panes high up and breaks through the impressive wood structure. For the most flexible use of the hall, there will be an area in the back of it which can be separated form the main hall. The hall has a seating capacity of 280 which can be extended to over 350 seats with single chairs. 

The new church will not only be used on Sundays for service, but it is a week-round social meeting point for the entire community. The church square and the foyer create an informal meeting area in the building. All functions are located centrally with close contact to the foyer and it is a natural starting point for all visitors. In addition, it is possible to acoustically separate the space from all other functions and allow for multiple events at the same time.   

The building's holistic structural system is set together of glue-laminated A-shaped frames interlocking from two sides. This three-dimensional construction fulfils all structural requirements but it also gives the space its very particular character. The network of beams becomes a structurally programmed ornament almost like a gothic cathedral. 

In general, only materials with low-emission life cycles are used. The whole building uses long-lasting materials of high quality which are most preferably produced locally. The entire load-bearing structure is made of wood, internal cladding is done in massive wood elements. Externally, the building is clad in wood shingles of core wood. Plinth and floor are pored in concrete on site. 

The use of glue-laminated columns and girders makes it easy to maintain good U-values. All walls will have a U-value of at least 0,18 W/m2 K, while the roof is estimated to have a value of at least 0,13 W/m2 K. All windows are planned with a U-value of at least 0,8 W/m2 K. The extensive use of wood also has a positive effect on the internal climate by balancing the air moisture and thus supporting the natural ventilation of the building. During the summer months cool fresh air will be led into the building at night. Excess warmth will be extracted through the roof windows. During winter months solar gains will warm up the concrete elements to be stored for a long period and used when necessary. In this time of the year, the conditioned concrete core will provide base temperatures in the building. Additional heating is provided through pre-conditioned fresh air.