The church’s main areas have been positioned on the street corner so that they are visible from far away; the steeple is separate from the church to complete the approach to the church, and the parish wing, with its everyday activities, has been placed alongside Reposalmentie. The wooden structures and the separate stone sacristy alongside the church remind Finns of their church-building tradition.
The height and character of the interior spaces vary, highlighting each functional space; from the low, smooth ceiling in the foyer, we move on to the taller pergola hall that lies between the interior and exterior spaces, beyond which we find the bright church hall.
The halls and the foyer can be combined into one big church space. The light towers on the yard side shine like lighthouses at night; during the day, they let in sunlight for the interior spaces.
It was possible to use wood without limitations in the load-bearing structures and the cladding as an automatic fire-extinguishing system has been installed throughout the building. The wall structures are made of glulam in the form of pillars and stiffening boards. The ceiling structures of the church hall are made of glulam beam trusses connected by steel joints and the beams that support them laterally. The stiffening concrete walls and the steel parts of the wood joints highlight the warmth of the contrasting material, wood.
The cladding is mainly made of wood, while the large surfaces of the halls’ façade are protected by green-patinated copper sheets. The interior surfaces are made of pine and birch plywood, boarding and acoustic wood louvres. The impression left by the plane’s blade on the board cladding is faintly visible.
The surfaces have been varnished so that they are a natural colour or they have been left untreated so that time can colour them. The floors of the halls are made of oil-treated pine planks, giving rise to the impression that it is a music box or a wooden container. The spruce planks on the façades have been oil painted in the traditional Finnish red ochre.
The wood structures enable the structures to be expressive and easily understood. The pillars, beams, grilles and trusses as well as their joints, the alternation between load-bearing and the needing to be borne and the visible layering of the structures lets the hierarchy and atmosphere of the various, diverse spaces be articulated.
The furnishings in the halls and foyer are made of elm and littleleaf linden. The artwork in the altar and baptismal niches are made of cross-end cuts of wood that have been glued together and have been worked in various ways; the use of grey alder and aspen create a flickering pattern on the work.
The special furnishings have been designed by Jouko Järvisalo, the artwork for the altar by Pauno Pohjolainen and the votive boat made of paper in the foyer by Merja Winqvist.
Late-rakenteet Oy has built the glulam struc¬tures, and Ideapuu Oy the wood cladding for the interior.
Laajasalo’s wooden church was realised on the basis of the winning proposal from an invite competition held in 2000. The church was consecrated during Advent in 2003.
Finnish Wood Award 2004
Project in brief
- Location | Laajasalo, Helsinki
- Purpose | Church
- Constructor/Client | Helsingin seurakuntayhtymä
- Architectural Design | Kari Järvinen and Merja Nieminen Architects SAFA
- Structural design | Insinööritoimisto Magnus Malmberg Oy
- Contractor | JP-Terasto Oy and Lujatalo Oy
- Year completed | 2003
- Photographs | Kimmo Räisänen
- Text | Jussi Vepsäläinen