A church is a vehicle to relate to God.
The Hatlehol church is a chamber filled of void.
Void detaches gestures from their obvious context. Gestures float into the void in search of new possible relations. The unquestioned development of everyday life is suspended and there is space for the appearance of God.
The Hatlehol church produces quiet.
Agite otium et agnoscetis quia ego sum Dominus. [Ps. 45, 11]
The Hatlehol church operates as a machine to collect experiences.
Space takes care of gestures, without predicting, without excluding. (This being, finally, the only reason for form: to collect human experiences and to provide dignity to actions regardless to their immediate goal)
The main hall of the Hatlehol church gives form to this inclusive gesture. As a reverse bowl, the dome collects and protects all the small fragments of experience of the community (according to Ingeborg Bachmann’s request for form: Wenn alle Krüge zerspringen/ was bleibt von den Tränen im Krug?).
The large dome of the Hatlehol church creates and protects void.
The dome defines a frame and provides a background. It opens up and contains, it discovers and shelters.
The Hatlehol church is simple and clear, both inside and outside. The church collects experiences inside of a unique figure.
The church appears in the woods as a recognizable –yet enigmatic- object, both humble and monumental.
The Hatlehol church appears -and re-appears in memory- as a single object.
The church follows a simple and rigorous proportional rule. The overall shape is contained in a 39x39m square. The upper part of the church is a hemisphere, the lower part is a reverse truncated cone. The porch in front of the church is contained in a 13x13m square.
The Hatlehol church is clearly recognizable as a holy building. It is simple, silent and monumental.
The large, white, wooden dome and the delicate classical porch immediately identify the new building as a church. Yet the building is not completely familiar: the dome is somehow too big; the porch seems to be too delicate. The church is calm and gentle, yet it is not easy.
The Hatlehol church is a fragile monument.
The church needs to be populated by the community. Only the gestures of the parish prevent the monumentality of the church to become empty. Only the silent approval made of the gestures inhabiting the church prevent the weakness of the church to become unbearable.
The simple, large figure of the church establishes a relation with the surrounding geographical elements.
The dome floats in the woods, abstract and respectful, silent as a K. D. Friedrich character staring at the monumental landscape of the Hjørundfjord, Vartdalsfjord and Storfjord.
The geometry of the dome and the details of the porch refer to a defined architectural tradition. Gestures inside of the Hatlehol church establish a relation with ancient gestures happening into ancient buildings.
The outspoken neo-classicism of the Hatlehol church coincides with its naive futurism. The Hatlehol church is both ancestral and utopian; it is Pantheon and U.F.O., igloo and mushroom.
The Hatlehol church avoids establishing a direct link with the content of the religious experience.
The church just makes reference to an architectural tradition.
The Hatlehol church is no representation of faith; it is a place for faith to happen.
The Hatlehol church does not lack a bit of sense of humour. It appears as an oversized mushroom, somehow blossoming in the woods around the Storfjorden.
The community reach the main entrance through a path moving in the wood. From the parking, the visitors enter the wood, then turn around the church moving through the rocks and the trees, and reaching the main entrance of the church.
Small hills inside the park produce open-air protected areas, where the community can meet. Wooden benches allow individual meditation.
All of the functions of the church are collected in a single building. The lower level contains all everyday activities; the upper one contains the ceremonial part.
The collection of all functions in a single building allows better connections among different functions and reduces costs.
All architectural effort is concentrated in the main room.
It is a large circular room, 39 m wide, covered with a dome.
The main room clearly appears outside, in the shape of a dome emerging from the fir-trees.
The dome defines a centre for the community.
The Hatlehol church has no bell tower.
The dome (instead of the bell tower) appears in the landscape and act as a recognizable sign for the community.
Bells are attached to a pole, and are part of the design of the surrounding landscape.
It is not possible to add a bell tower to a rotunda. The failure of Bernini (!) with the bell towers of the Pantheon testifies that it is not possible.
The main hall receives light from the windows at the gallery level and from the secondary rooms around it.
All minor spaces and the gallery are open to the woods. 550 windows give 360° view over the landscape.
The atmosphere is mild and soft. Shadows inside the room are not too sharp.
The main room allows perfect visual communication among the pastor and the parish.
The baptism-sacristy, the kloster space, the sacristy and the storages necessary for the main room are located in the ring encircling the main room.
The main entrance to the upper level is on the northwestern side of the room. A stairway leads to a platform in front of delicate classical pronaos.
The stairs and pronaos define a ritual sequence for the parish entering the church.
Couples stand on the platform when exiting the church after marriages. The classical façade of the church behind them in the wedding photos.
The entrance to the lower level is immediately accessible from the parking.
The lower level is divided in two by a large central entrance/church market, connecting all other functions.
The chapel, the children chapel, the community room and the meeting/dining are all directly connected to the entrance/church market and compose a complex series of public spaces offering different light conditions. Two entrances are located at the opposite ends of the entrance/church market.
Storages and services are located at the centre of the building, leaving offices and classrooms in the external ring, in direct contact with the landscape.
The choir, the organ and the pulpit are at the gallery level. The gallery can host lights and audio-visual applications.
The three levels are connected by a large stair and a comfortable elevator immediately left of the main entrance.
A minor stair connects the sacristy room and the sacristy and the sacristy and the pulpit.
The church is entirely made of wood. A reticular structure composed of radial beams made of glued lamellate wood beams defines the outside and inside domes. The domes are covered with birch shingles (outside) and plastered (inside).
Pavements and furniture are in birch wood as well.
The reticular structure in lamellate wood supports the load-bearing internal dome and the relative exterior dome.
The structure works both as arch and as reticular beam, so reducing the weight and the cost of the system.
The Hatlehol church reduces construction costs by concentrating all functions inside of a single building. This choice reduces maintenance costs as well.
The heating of the lower part of the building helps heating the large main room in the celebration days. Pavement heating installations fit to this particular task.
Installations are included in the walls.
The furniture of the church is humble. According to the sober evangelic tradition, no unnecessary ostentation.
The church collects furniture and objects coming from the local craftsman’s tradition. The building acts as a small museum of the local religious community. Chairs, altars, cups, chandeliers are simple, solid, everyday objects, coming from the Alesund region.
The white background gives importance to these simple objects.
There is no fixed furniture.
On the internal dome there is a large graphite drawing.
The drawing represents clouds.
The drawing is first made on paper, then digitalized and reproduced on the inside of the dome.