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Competition: Pulpit Rock pop-up church, Norway

An open international ideas competition has been announced for a temporary church at the iconic Pulpit Rock plateau in Norway (Deadline: 21 June)

Open to students, recent graduates and professionals, the contest seeks proposals for a pop-up place of worship on the remote and dramatic cliff known locally as Preikestolen.

The 604m-high plateau measures around 25m by 25m, and is a major tourist destination within Norway’s Ryfylke region and offers spectacular views of the nearby Lysefjord and surrounding mountains.

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Pulpit Rock, Norway

According to the brief: ‘Designing a place of worship requires a careful study, these magnificent places, which have always inspired the minds of architects and engineers in every age, nothing is left to chance.

‘Often in places like this, where nature tends to overwhelm the man for his beauty, people feel close to them a very strong spirituality, and it is for this reason that we chose to propose the design of a spiritual place like a church, for this so charming site.’

Overlooking Norway’s 42km-long Lysefjord, Pulpit Rock is a major tourist destination receiving between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors every year. The spot is very popular in the warmer months and less busy in the colder half of the year when weather conditions limit safe access. An initiative to improve the steep mountainous paths to the attraction is underway.

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Pulpit Rock, Norway

The call for ideas is organised by AWR Competitions and is open to students, recent graduates and professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering and design. Teams may feature up to five multidisciplinary members. The competition jury has yet to be announced.

Proposals should respond to the context – which includes the 1,110m-tall mountain Kjerag nearby – and carefully consider materials and use of natural light.

The winning team, to be announced on 8 July, will receive a €2,000 top prize, while a second place prize of €1,000 and five honourable mentions will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for registrations is 21 June
The deadline for submissions is at 23:59 GMT +1 on 24 June

Fee

Promotional registration from 1 February to 20 February: €40
Special registration from 21 February to 21 April: €50
Early registration from 22 April to 22 May: €75
Late registration from 23 May to 21 June: €100

Contact details

Email: info@awrcompetitions.com / registration@awrcompetitions.com

View the competition website for more information

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup case study: Q&A with Antoine Robert-Grandpierre

The partner at Switzerland-based Local Architecture discusses lessons learned designing a temporary church for Deaconesses of St-Loup

How did your chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup project deliver an appropriate temporary church for its location?

In the spring of 2007, Local Architecture began a complete renovation of the Maison-Mère of the community of Deaconesses of St-Loup. The building work was expected to last for 18 months. This induced that the nuns would need a temporary structure for their community’s religious activities. How to conceal the claim for a pragmatic and reasonably priced solution to be designed and built in very short time, with the exceptional spatial and symbolic quality required for a place of worship? Experienced in prefabricated timber construction, Local Architecture proposed a collaboration with the laboratory for timber construction IBOIS of EPFL in order to develop a structural design based on researches on the origami geometric and static qualities. The project addresses the traditional Protestant churches, their spatial variations as in a church nave, from the transept to the chancel. A transition from an horizontal to a vertical scale, passing through a succession of folds that give a structural rhythm to the interior volume.

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Source: Image by Milo Keller

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness in your design?

The geometry of the chapel integrates spatial, structural, constructive, acoustic and lighting constraints in a single, synthetic form. Based on Origami, the principle idea is to bent straight creases by reflection about a plane. The following parameters determined the form of the chapel:

  • The form should express a certain simplicity and evidence, be economic and had to be rapidly assembled.
  • In order to remind the vertical variations of a church space, the extension of the corrugation profile is slightly bent. This compresses the folded surface and the nave space raises up in direction of the chancel.
  • By a modulation of the corrugation profile, the parallel folds became alternating concave and convex: Wall and roof get modulated by deep and small folds and the roof creases get transversally inclined. The irregular inclination of the surfaces improves the acoustic and the lighting of the chapel.

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Source: Image by Milo Keller

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

The calculations with a finite element programme showed that the folded plate structure could be built with cross-laminated timber plates of 40mm thickness for the walls and 60mm for the roof. Plates are assembled with folded steel plates along the creases and simply cap screwed. The simplicity of the detailing, a high degree of prefabrication and a direct data transmission from architects to engineers and to producers enabled the chapel to be realised in a very short time. The plates were fabricated and milled in the factory. They were assembled on place with folded steel plates and screws within 10 days. The structural timber plates are covered by a sealing bitumen layer. The exterior skin is made of 19mm surface coated plywood panels, assembled with open joints to secure rain water drainage.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a temporary church for the remote Pulpit Rock in Norway?

Designing a church is not like designing any other building. Forget at first the temporary aspect; you are going to build for Eternity. (Our temporary chapel is no more temporary and is still there, maybe for ever…;) A church has to link worshipers with the past and with the future. How to integrate traditions and be contemporary at the same time. Think about natural light, about acoustic, about intimacy and openness. A church is about creating a flow between cosmos and microcosm…

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture

Source: Image by Milo Keller

Chapel for the Deaconesses of St-Loup in Switzerland by Local Architecture