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Firms Create Porcelain Church in Norway

Friday, June 5, 2020

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Architect Espen Surnevik and firm Trodahl Architects collaborated to design a porcelain-covered church in the city of Porsgrunn, Norway.

The church opened at the end of last year.

The Project

The new design replaces an18th-century church that was destroyed in a fire in 2011. The “Rise Up” design was picked after an architectural competition opened in June 2015.

“Building a new church, after the loss of a traditional church on fire, is a profound and demanding process for a local community,” said Surnevik.

“The architectural task is to create a meaningful new church building that can both absorb history, but at the same time carry the future and the opportunities our time demands for church and society.”

The new church is built on the same footprint of the previous church, part of the nod that Surnevik wanted to achieve with the design.

"The plan of the old church was traditionally designed over a clear mathematical quadratic grid, which structured the building," said Surnevik.

"The new church was developed over the same old grid, making the new footprint reflect the old church. The old church was painted shining white, which is traditional in Norway, therefore we chose to make the new church to connect with the past."

The church has 11 different geometric volumes that are ordered by height based off the portion’s importance—the spire naturally being the tallest. Workers (including engineering consultant A.L.Høyer Skien AS and general contractor Tor Entreprenør AS) built all the other forms’ slopes to match the spire’s angle of 3.3 degrees.

To echo the white paint of the old church, the new design is clad almost entirely in porcelain, which is a material that was manufactured in Porsgrunn throughout the 20th century.

Surnevik said that they not only chose the material because of the historic connection, but because of the clean appearance and fire-resistant properties.

"Porcelain is a fantastic material in many ways," said Surnevik. "Its density is very special and keeps it very clean, by preventing dirt from sticking to the material. The clean bright surfaces are meant to give the church a kind of purity linked to the liturgy, in the same way that old white-painted traditional Norwegian wooden churches did.

"After the fire the client had a specification for a more fire-resistant church, so porcelain's total fire resistance made it very suitable."

Inside, oak beams and furniture accent the porcelain.



Tagged categories: Churches; Color + Design; Color + Design; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU

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