Building a New Church for Everyone in Sædalen

A new and modern Sædalen Church is now set to be built to accommodate everyone. Hille Melbye won the competition for the church together with Koht Architects, Tag Landscape, and contractor Peab K. Nordang.

“We are delighted with the opportunity to collaborate with the congregation to build a church that will become a place for everyone,” says architect Mikkel Haavaldsen at Hille Melbye Architects.

The new church is scheduled to be completed in Bergen in 2023 and is highly anticipated in an area that has experienced significant population growth in recent years.

A Church for the Community

Sædalen has experienced significant residential development and growth in the 21st century, with a young congregation established in 2006. Until now, the school has served as the congregation’s meeting place in addition to being the social hub of the local community. The new church will be a welcome addition to the area.

“The congregation’s desire for the new church to be a place for everyone, regardless of their initial relationship with the church, aligns well with our thoughts on what a church building can be,” says Haavaldsen.

Hille Melbye has sought to give the building a clear appeal to those arriving or passing by, with the aim of making the building appear friendly and inviting to everyone.

Activity Throughout the Week

The new church is designed to accommodate a wide range of activities throughout the week. In planning the layout and interior design, there has been a strong focus on internal organization to provide maximum flexibility.

“The solutions implemented allow the building to be used in many different ways, with numerous opportunities for both shared and simultaneous use. Additionally, the main rooms can be combined, allowing, for example, the capacity of the church hall to be doubled during Christmas services. We also believe that such a flexible solution is one of the most important contributions we as architects can make in addressing environmental challenges. Hopefully, this will enable the church to meet evolving needs over time,” says Haavaldsen.

The jury’s rationale for choosing Hille Melbye with collaborators:

“The proposal ‘A Church Full of Life’ demonstrates an impressive architectural ambition and credibility as a cohesive facility. It harmonizes beautifully in the interplay between architecture, surroundings, and functions and will undoubtedly become a landmark in the center of Sædalen.

Architecture is a narrative. The building clearly announces itself as a church, with the tower in front and an inviting common entrance for all. In the ecclesiastical tradition, the building has an axial structure with an east-facing church hall. The church and the church square confidently face towards the center, and the relationship between outdoors and indoors is clearly and finely balanced.

The church complex is compact and has a functional layout with well-placed and interactive functions. The floor plan is tidy with a good zoning that invites multiple uses.

The ground plan of the church hall has good proportions that can provide a versatile and spacious room. The room has good height and a square plan, ensuring flexibility and a sense of space even when fully occupied. Opening the rear wall of the church hall in full width will significantly increase the capacity and ensure good visual contact with the choir for everyone present. The direct axis between the church square and the church hall enables a transparency where the altar can be visible from the main entrance of the church. The jury sees the potential in the quality of the space, which will be realized in the further development of the building through the project phase.

The layout of the church square is open and flexible with various zones, and the kitchen with serving area is centrally located. Large windows that can be opened ensure good lighting conditions and a close relationship with the outdoor area known as the church square and the nature defined as the church park. Together, this will create a good atmosphere in the church square and can become the meeting place that is so central to the vision of Sædalen Church. The placement of the priest’s and baptismal sacristies works well both during worship services and for use during the week. We particularly highlight the design of the baptismal sacristy. It will also be a suitable meeting room and a place for silence, contemplation, and conversation. The activity area on the second floor has flexibility that will allow the church to accommodate versatile use and activities, which is particularly important for children and young people.

The material palette for the church building as a whole harmonizes both in aesthetic expression and aligns well with the desired sustainability and environmental goals in both the short and long term. The proposal has also actively utilized the possibilities that brick offers for a unique and aesthetic facade during the daytime as well as after dark. The materials included in the proposed project will ensure the church’s longevity with acceptable maintenance.

The jury believes in the concept of the church park, which is carefully integrated into the vulnerable landscape, with the footpath along the stream with stations for rest and activity. The project has also strictly adhered to the zoning plan and is assessed by the jury to have low risk associated with approval and implementation within the given framework.”