The client’s wish was to have a modern church that continued the tradition of Finnish architecture, where old construction methods and the use of new solutions were looked at during the planning stage. The finished building is based on the winning entry of an architectural competition and on the need to promote high-quality wooden construction.
The attainment of the objectives required the concept of prefabrication to be taken into consideration from the beginning. The goal was to integrate the structural elements into a solid unit. Even though architecture was placed before structural efficiency, the production of sensible product parts guided the architectural selections.
The lines of the eaves echo the forms of a stand of trees and the building becomes part of the trees surrounding it. Past the steeple, visitors reach the church, which is part of the spatial unit that the marketplace and forest belong to, as well. The pillars of the halls meet beams that define the space while natural light shines from between the beams to light up the church. The spaces have been hollowed out of the building as if they were clearings in a forest.
The bundle-like glulam pillars of the halls are attached to the foundation and supported by the concrete base floor. The building has been braced by attaching insulated outer wall elements to the pillars and the panels of the ceiling to the glulam beams. The panelling was already attached to the plate stiffener of the inner walls at the factory. The architecture of these spaces was built in one go.
Sustainable and replaceable materials were used during building. The grey-aged façade has been clad in cleft aspen shingles and fine-sawn drop siding. To ensure quality, particular attention was paid to the origin of the wood, its felling, drying and machining as well as its transportation, storing and installation.
The spruce panels of the halls are of radially sawn spruce, which minimizes the movement of the wood and increases its wearability. The wood surfaces have been treated with a wash of lye, leaving them easy to clean and renew. The acoustic elements of the false ceiling are moulded veneer elements.
The furniture has been tailor-made to suit the church’s activities. The hall’s chair creates the impression of a long church pew. The altar furnishings, highlight by cleft aspen surfaces, are outlined against the tripartite altarpiece, transforming the colors of the grapevine in light.
Wood is a human material. The connection between material and mental pictures are characteristic of wood architects. Modern building is often extremely functional, which is why it is the designer’s job to connect architecture to the live tradition. Viikki Church makes visible that which cannot be described.
Project in brief
- Location | Viikki, Helsinki
- Purpose | Church
- Constructor/Client | Helsingin seurakuntayhtymä
- Architectural Design | JKMM Architects
- Structural design | Insinööritoimisto Ylimäki & Tinkanen Oy
- Contractor | Peab Seicon Oy
- Interior design | Päivi Meuronen and Samuli Miettinen
- Year completed | 2005
- Photographs | Kimmo Räisänen, Arno de la Chapelle
- Text | Samuli Miettinen