MUTOPIA proposes People’s Church with multi-arched façade and a Noah’s Ark rooftop garden

MUTOPIA, in collaboration with Regnestuen Engineers and Danish sculptor Morten Stræde, have created the ‘Southern Harbour Church’ proposal with the aim of supporting the transformation of the former industrial area of the Island of Teglholmen situated in the inner-harbour area of Copenhagen into a new urban district by providing a hot-spot for culture, contemplation and community life.


MUTOPIA’s answer to the international competition brief was to envision a new identity for the church as a mix of interacting programs, in response to the latest usage tendencies of Danish churches as places for lectures and concerts, community dining, children’s church, open house for homeless and many other activities.


A ‘family of arches’ provides an open and welcoming façade reflecting the multitude of different programs which frame the church space as a hollow stepped pyramid easily accessible directly from street level, and gradually narrowing upwards. The four stepped corner ‘legs’, containing infrastructure, church and culture related program, are interconnected with bridges, creating multiple interaction possibilities between church and everyday activities, thereby contributing to creating a true ‘People’s Church’ as a combined space for worship and everyday life. The legs support the roof level, which contains the main culture program including three large flexible ‘black box’ theatres, along with several service functions.


Situated at the intersection of the two promenades of the island, the church tower contains a public staircase as a continuation of the public realm leading to a rooftop garden fully accessible to the public also outside the church opening hours, and featuring a combination of community gardens, seating areas, glasshouses and beehives, along with several animal sculptures – outdoor pavilions ivy-clad to enhance the garden experience as a green Noah’s ark and a destination with great harbour views for local residents, children and visitors.


MUTOPIA’s proposal inscribes the church volume into the surrounding context of urban blocks as a fully accessible, highly sustainable and spatially innovative social mixer. By defining the sacred space as a negative of profane space, the seemingly opposite functions are interconnected and integrated, just like yin and yang, into a new, dynamic and vital whole.


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