Winner of Competition for New Church in Bergen

Hille Melbye architects, in collaboration with PEAB, KOHT architects, and TAG landscape architects, has won the invited competition for the new Sædalen Church. You can read the jury’s rationale below.

“A Church Full of Life” demonstrates an architectural ambition and credibility as a cohesive facility. The proposal harmonizes in the interaction between architecture, surroundings, and functions and will 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.