Henning Larsen design first new church in Copenhagen for over 30 years

11 October 2022
  • Vivid Vision
  • Vivid Vision
  • Vivid Vision
  • Vivid Vision



Modern monument to evoke meeting place in a woodland clearing

Tenderstream member Henning Larsen has won a design contest for the first new church in Copenhagen for over 30 years, with a concept that evokes a natural meeting place situated amongst the trees of a woodland glade. The proposal for Ørestad Church was chosen by a jury consisting of both professional judges and members of Islands Brygge Parish Council. Competing firms also included Lundgaard & Tranberg, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, Konsordium OOPEAA:WE, and Tenderstream member Cobe.

Set amongst open landscape, the Ørestad district in Copenhagen is known for its expressive architecture. Designed in wood and wood shingle, the 1750 sq m Ørestad church reflects the its natural surroundings, with an inverted facade design that creates protrusions within the deep church walls. Jacob Kurek, global design director at Henning Larsen, stated: “The intention is to create a church that can command attention, untouched by the bustle of the city, filled with spaces of distinguished simplicity that offer residents solace from their everyday life. Tasked with designing a building that lingers in your mind, we have chosen to create a building that sits in complete harmony with its surroundings.”

Light cascades through wooden roof domes, bathing the chapel in light from above and opening up the view of the sky. The hall is envisaged as a forest clearing, where the light is refracted in a variety of ways throughout the day and year. A continuous brick floor of various tones and glazing, referencing fallen leaves, rises to become benches, sitting niches, and podiums. Outside, the path from the city and the nearby common leads directly into the church.

As well as a flexible church room that can be adapted to hold a range of services and ceremonies, the church also holds a chapel, a shielded courtyard, a church office, and informal cultural spaces that can be used for communal eating, small concerts, yoga, dancing, or lectures. The inverted facade is activated on all sides creating an urban shelf with seating niches, a book exchange, a drinking fountain, and games and chess tables.

Referencing cloister gardens, the church's building protects the courtyard but lets the light fall from above. The shady corners give way to a garden where visitors can sit for quiet reflection. The landscape consists of grasses, herbaceous perennials and cherry trees inspired by the nearby Amager Fælled – a protected natural area.

Nina la Cour Sell, Henning Larsen design director, said: “We have great expectations that the new church will become a meeting point for both the parish and the community in Ørestad. It has been our goal to create a sustainable church that is completely its own and contributes to Ørestad's tradition of experimenting with the built environment.”

The winning design was delivered in collaboration with Platant and Ramboll, with Henning Larsen providing both both architectural and landscape services. Construction is expected to start in 2024, and the church will be consecrated in 2026.

Lucy Nordberg
Tenderstream Head of Research

This tender was first published by Tenderstream on 15.03.2022 here

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