Monday, March 19, 2012

'Temppeliaukio' The Rock Church, Helsinki

Posted by MAKMU ta On Monday, March 19, 2012 No comments

LastSeptember my wife had to go to a conference to Helsinki, Finland, so I decidedto tag along and see what Helsinki is all about.
On arrivingI quickly noticed that much of the buildings and stone walls in Helsinki aremade of a lovely pink granite. If you had a geologist to hand he wouldtell you the reason for this is because Helsinki sits on an indented Pegmatitic(pink) granite peninsula that makes up part of the Baltic shield. I did nothave a geologist to hand, but walking in some of the many green areas inHelsinki, large outcrops of this rock were poking out of the ground everywhere I looked.
Most of the buildings built with this stone are highlymanicured and well dressed. The central train station and the parliamentbuildings are fine examples of this. One building that I was very muchtaken by was a place called The Temppeliaukio Church or The Rock Church. 
Exterior, dry stacked wall of the rock church.
A stark contrast to the well dressed pink granite buildingsaround Helsinki, the rock church is rugged and unmanicured.
360º view of the inside
Temppeliaukio Church is a Lutheran church in the Töölöneighborhood of Helsinki. The project comes from an architectural competitionwon by the architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. The design oftheir project was recognized by the jury as “completely original” andrespectful of the competition goal to “include the organization plan to keep asmuch of the giant granite outcrop that makes up Temppeliaukio Square intact.”
Their original solution to saving the square was to have theinterior of the church site excavated and built into the rock. It dawnedintuitively on the Suomalainen brothers when they visited the building sitethat in order to save the character of place, the rock itself had to be understoodas a church and everything built at the site should be adjusted to accompanythe character of the rock.
Before the Suomalainen brothers started designing the TemppeliaukioChurch, they had done planning work for the Ministry of Defence and thus hadbecome familiar with rock building.

The brothers' aim was to locate the floor of the sanctuaryat the level of the widest and highest street, Fredrikinkatu Street, which endsat the square. This required the church hall to be cut into thebedrock. As a result this leads the visitor to the sanctuary without the needto climb stairs, simultaneously offering a friendly rather than overbearingexperience of the church space.
The Rock church looking down at Temppeliaukio Square. Photo by MKFI via Wikipedia 
The seemliness transition of the rock walls from inside to outside. 
The 24m diameter roof is made up of a copperplate-covered dome, using a impressive 13.6 miles (22 km) of copper plate strips. The dome is connected to the natural rock wall by 180 window panes thatlet in natural light. Due to the varying height of the rock wall, each glasspart of the roof is different in size.

As a result of the natural slope of the bedrock walls, the glass panes above the altar area are bigger, allowing the altar to become more illuminated compared to the other parts of the sanctuary 
13.6 miles (22 km) of copper plate strips covered the inside of the dome.
The alter
The colour scheme of the interior was based on the  red, purple and grey shades of granite. The metals were also carefully selected to match the colours of the stone. Steel, made bluish by hammering, non-oxidised copper for the entrance doors as well as for the front facing of the gallery and interior of the dome, concrete left in its raw state.

The brothers' vision was for the church to have a strong connection with nature and its surroundings, and they wanted the natural rough quarried stone to have a leading role in creating the atmosphere inside the sanctuary. To achieve this the bedrock walls were left rough, with all drill markings from the quarrying visible, while the resulting quarried rock was stacked on top to create the rest of the walls that continue out and over the park surface.
Drill marks leftover from  quarrying
Aside from the aesthetic and structural benefits, an additional benefit of the solid rough walls is its acoustic qualities, and with a seating capacity for 940, it is no wonder that the church is also a popular concert venue.    
The glistening Non-oxidised copper entrance doors to the church. 
Located right in the heart of Helsinki, The Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, with half a million people visiting it annually. Lots more great photos of the church can be seen here. If you would like to see more photos of various stonework I came across on my trip to Helsinki you can check out my flickr album.


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