Providing an iconic landmark for the district, the proposed new church in Ørestad invites the entire community in all its rich diversity to come together. It offers a shared space for the people of Ørestad. With a clear identity as a church, it is a multifunctional building that provides the community with a place for gathering and events. The aim is to make a building that looks forward in time and out into the world, and which is at the same time based on respect for the Danish cultural-historical heritage.
The proposal for a new church for the community of Ørestad in Copenhagen was developed in consortium together by OOPEAA and We Architecture with OJ Rådgiveende Ingengører for an invited competition organized by the Islands Brygge Parish Council in collaboration with the Islands Brygges Sogns Menighedsråd.
A Space for the Community
Serving the everyday needs of social life in the neighborhood, the new church for Ørestad also offers a place to experience the calming atmosphere of a sacral space. With its architectural solution, it provides the community with a place for cultural events as well as for celebrating the important milestones of life. The sacral space of the church as a place for religion and rituals forms the heart of the building. It is surrounded by spaces for gathering and sharing experiences together.
The tradition of providing a mediating space by the entrance that is characteristic to the Basilica churches served as an important inspiration for our concept. Another key element of our proposal is the archaic principle of a sacred space as a place for people for coming together as a community. The church hall is placed in the center. It is the heart of the building. Around the core, a ring of surrounding spaces provide shelter for the most scared part in the middle. The spaces around function as a transitional zone between the world outside and the space inside. They are designed to provide a place for a variety of activities in the community.
The archaic concept of “the heart and the cloak” is key to our concept in two ways: First, in a symbolic manner, it creates an inviting space in which the important social functions of the community, from the more profane to the more sacral, are all gathered under one roof that embraces everything under its sheltering cover.
Secondly, it is a key to the way in which we have organized the spatial program. It is not only about forming a mediating space between the space of the city and that of the church. Just as importantly, it is about organizing the functions around the church hall that forms the heart of the building and opens out to the cultural spaces and auxiliary spaces around it. This makes it possible to flexibly combine and separate the spaces and allows for multiple simultaneous activities as well as larger ones according to need.
The New Church for Ørestad is Integrated in the Neighborhood
Integrated in the neighborhood both through its architecture and its functions, the proposed new church of Ørestad works in dialogue with the surrounding urban cityscape. As a contemporary interpretation of a communal gathering space, it is first and foremost a sacral building. Composed of a cubical central core sheltered with a cloak-like cover, it continues the age-old tradition of communal gathering spaces. The spatial volumes indicate the level of the sacredness of the spaces. All functions of the church are gathered under one sheltering roof.
With the church hall at its heart, the building offers a series of gathering spaces for cultural events and meetings as well as for informal hanging out together. Its low, large tent-like roof embraces all the functions under one roof. It forms an inviting and easily approachable building that serves as an identifying landmark for the neighborhood. Located between the light and curved roof surfaces and the pergola in front of the building, the bell tower for the church provides a strong contemporary symbol for the district.
The materials have been deliberately chosen to work in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood while adding an element of its own to it. The roof is clad with brick roof tiles connecting it to the Danish tradition of skillful brick work. The walls and flooring of the ground floor are made of clay to create a sense of grounding with the earth. The thick clay-stamped walls have both aesthetic, climatic and acoustic qualities.
The roof with a wooden structure and the ceiling with a wooden cladding provide a complementary contrast to the feeling of permanence of the clay. They form a light cover that embraces the entire building under its shelter. Together the clay and the wood give the spaces a warm feel. The skylights allow the light to softly seep in and offer an opportunity to see the open sky.
Forming a Connection between the Interior and the Exterior
The spatial arrangement of the building is at once functional and flexible. The spaces orientate along the south-north axis. The ecclesiastical approach is from the south and cultural approach from the north. The bell tower guides visitors to the church and the entrances lead visitors into the church. The transfer zone prepares visitors for the communal church experience.
Upon entrance, the visitor is invited in through a mediating space between the sacral core of the building and the urban life outside of it. To the south, a garden framed by an open pergola structure marks the arrival to the building. It repeats the rhythm of the facade with a slender row of columns. Forming an open public space, the area with the pergolas connects the building with the surrounding neighborhood.
With its central fountain the outdoor area around the new church for Ørestad provides spaces that serve as a meeting place both for the church and for the surrounding district. It creates a transitional space between the interior space of the church and the public urban space around it. To the north, a small, covered porch offers people attending events in the building an opportunity to go outside. Bicycle parking is provided in this area. To the west, by the cycle path, there is a planted edge zone along the facade.
A Flexible Arrangement of Spaces
The public functions are placed on the ground floor, while the upper floor is reserved for staff offices. The internal cross-section of the church space itself is clear and simple in its spatial organization. With the church hall forming the heart of the building, a series of cultural spaces is arranged around it. With all functions centered around the church hall at the core, the building opens in all directions. The activities can expand out to the pergolas around the building.
The chapel is located to the south. The spaces for events and cultural activities are placed immediately to the north of the church hall. They are conneced to a larger cafe area, which also has its own entrance for direct access. The combination of large and small cultural spaces allows for many possible uses. They connect both to the large cafe area and to the church space itself. It is possible to connect them into one to form one large space, or to separate them into smaller spaces to host multiple simultaneous activities.
The church hall can be expanded to include the cultural spaces around it. Vice versa, the church hall can work to enlarge the space for cultural events when needed. When desired, it is possible to close the wall between the church hall and the spaces for cultural activities and gathering. This works well for example when there is a concert or some other event. It is also possible to close only the opening in the middle and leave the others open to facilitate circulation between the spaces. This way people can fluently move from the hall to the cultural spaces to enjoy catered food or refreshments.
The church hall has a high-ceiling and it is lit through skylights. It is at once solemn and intimate. The format of the church room, an almost square plan, easily lends itself for different setups according different uses.