In the 1800s, wooden churches were a common sight in Norway, but were often painted to ‘hide’ their true construction material. Knarvik Community Church, opened in 2014, sets to correct that trend and retain a nod to the cultural heritage with a large timber construction that takes inspiration from its surrounding rocky, coastal landscape. With a central location overlooking the town centre, the church has become a distinct part of the town’s identity, with a pre-weathered and untreated wooden façade. On the pine interior of the 2,250m2 building, church pews have been done away with to reveal a large flexible space that can be used for cultural events housing up to 500 people, emphasizing the community aspect of the project.
In addition to the environmental and visual benefits that building the church in wood brings, economics was a major driver. As construction began shortly after the economic downturn, building with local pine transpired to be the most cost-effective way to deliver a landmark new church in Knarvik. The key to the economic and environmental success was local sourcing, with the pine wood heralding only a short distance from the site, reducing transport costs and emissions for the project. The architects had developed their experience working with wood through earlier, smaller projects, allowing the church to be delivered without any major construction challenges, thanks in part to the rigorous involvement of the community throughout the design and construction process.
Photo credits: Hundven Clements.