The commission for the Kuokkala Church was won through a 2006 competition to design a building which expresses the continuum of church architecture and, through its location in the center of the suburban neighborhood of Kuokkala in Jyväskylä, forms a focal point for the community and provides a sense of identity. The client wanted to create a church that looks like a church. The aim was to design a building that serves an identifiable landmark for the area. The goal was to have all the functions of the church and community center placed under one roof divided into several floors. The client asked for a building with a strong presence. However, a sense of openness and easy access was also desired. The building functions as a communal meeting point that facilitates a wide range of different kinds of activities and uses.
Our submission, entitled KIDE, proposed a compact, sculptural building containing all desired functions within a single recognizable shape. That form represents the architecture of today, yet it is rich in historical allusions. A dialogue of contrasts between the exterior and interior architecture is manifested in material choices. The roof and walls of the church are covered with overlapping Spanish slate tiles, with wood and copper-covered entrance details that create a sense of warmth and scale. Other primary outer surfaces are clad in Finnish granite. The church interior is mainly wood; the church ceiling is a combination of glue laminated timber framing with wooden grid shell construction, which amalgamates the main floor spaces into a whole.
The church and parish meeting halls can be combined into one large sacral space that has adjoining youth facilities. A gallery between the halls houses the organ and the cantors’ offices. Radially sawn Finnish spruce is employed throughout the structure and finishes, with some furniture and the altar fabricated from ash and lime wood, respectively. The overall interior palette is reminiscent of Gothic cathedrals and handcraft in general.
The outer shell and the interior space differ from each other in shape, material and color. The sacral spaces are placed in the middle of the building and the service spaces (sacristy, storage spaces, kitchen, lobby) are located in a zone around them. The grid shell unites these sacral spaces into one entity. Wood playes a central role in the interior spaces, helping to create a warm atmosphere. Ceiling and floors are made of carefully selected local radially sawn spruce.
The building stands in a very central location in the middle of the neighborhood. It is surrounded by low rise commercial buildings and apartment buildings that are a little taller. In its material and color the facade forms a contrast to the light colored brick used in the surrounding buildings giving the milieu just the right twist.
Kuokkala church won the Red-Dot award 2011 and was a shortlisted for the 2011 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, Mies van der Rohe Award.
Commission invited competition, 1st prize
year 2006 (competition) - 2010 (completion)
size 1250 m2 (gross floor area) / 7700 m3 (volume)