The wish of the Parish of Jyväskylä was to build a church that looks like a church. Our proposal was a simple, sculptural form within which all of the church’s different functions could be contained. The design is of our time, yet permeated with nods to and reinterpretations of church-building tradition.

The east-west oriented building stands centrally on Kuokkala Square, the focal point of Jyväskylä’s Kuokkala district. The church is roofed and clad in overlapping slate tiles, and wooden and copper details around the entrances supplement the overall visual aspect. The church is flanked by a granite stairway and walls which, together with the bell tower on the square, usher visitors towards the main entrance.

The church’s functions are located across three storeys, with the church offices opening directly onto the market square. On the main floor, the church hall and parish meeting hall can be combined to create a shared space onto which the floor’s children’s and youth facilities also adjoin. A gallery houses the organ and cantors’ office.

The church is predominantly wooden. The church ceiling is a combined glulam frame and wooden gridshell construction, which visually integrates the separate hall spaces. The gridshell was assembled and laminated together in-situ in three sections.

Locally sourced spruce has been used throughout the church, from its bearing structures to its interior surfaces and fixtures. The church hall furnishings are in ashwood and the altar furniture is limewood, a species used historically for the carving of wooden icons.

The structure of the church

This church has no conventional walls at all. The form is determined by the 13 laminated timber frames of truss construction, which support the slate cladding. All the frames are different, as they become lower and narrower along the length of the church. The top boom of each truss is stiffened with plywood and the bottom booms have steel reinforcement.

The slate cladding is fixed to battens impregnated with preservative. Under the battens is a series of 50 mm spacers and the waterproofing layer is laid on sheets of 21 mm plywood. The plywood is supported on the top booms of the laminated timber trusses, which are cut to the correct angle in the factory.

Foundations, floor slabs and gallery are in concrete. The timber structure is fixed to the reinforced concrete with steel jointing pieces which are glued and screwed in the factory to the truss members.

The timber trussed-frames inflict enormous horizontal thrust and bending moment on the concrete walls. At the glass entrance façade, the main frames are supported by a special steel structure.

3D computer modelling was used at the structural design stage to control the curved trussed-frames (which support the roof and are offset in two directions) and the sloping surfaces of the concrete structure. Computer modelling was also used on site and in the factory to produce the timber components.

Because of its demanding nature, Kuokkala Church was classified as an AA Class building which called for outside inspection of the structural design. The structural design team won the Tekla Structures computer modelling competition in 2009.

Project in brief
Location: 
Jyväskylä
Client: 
Parish of Jyväskylä
Size: 
Floor area: 1311 m², 7460 m³
Structural design: 
Ramboll Finland Oy
Contractor: 
Rakennusliike Porrassalmi Oy