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Nowzar Hedayati

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Utzon's Bagsværd Church

Few weeks ago I visited Bagsværd Church designed by Jørn Utzon after more than 10 years.

The church is located in north of Copenhagen, and if you are a fan of Modern Houses of Worship or a fan of Utzon himself you should definitely visit this magnificent piece of art/architecture.

From outside, it looks more like an industrial building rather than a church. But, from the moment you step into the building you are transported into another environment. An environment that was designed meticulously by one of the worlds and Denmark’s famous modern architects, Jørn Utzon; and just like many of Utzon’s works it is a mixture of many cultures and architectural styles.

Utzon was an avid traveler and he used to study the architectural styles and systems of the lands he visited. Later on he used those techniques in his projects, and Bagsværd Church was no exception.

The glazed roofs in the church’s corridor are taken from the skylights in Persian bazaars. The dark blue tiles used on top of the railings are taken from the tiles used in Iranian mosques. The bricks arrangement behind the altar is inspired from brick solar shading in Persian architecture; and the interior gardens in the building are influenced by Japanese garden design, which Utzon was very fond of.

But perhaps the most eye-catching and noticeable, element in this church is the altar itself. From white interior finishes, to the use of light wood on the benches and the organ’s casing, and the minimalist design on cross makes it a very divine and relaxing environment. But, this sense of divinity and lightness is intensified when visitors gaze upon the curved concrete ceiling painted in white color and brightened by the skylight on the side of the roof; it makes you feel almost like you are floating on air; like you are flying towards heavens.

The amazing thing about Utzon’s work here is that he managed to incorporate all of these different styles of architecture together and add his own Scandinavian, Danish, modern and yet minimalist design into it; and create an architectural piece that is harmonious, pleasant and at the same time functional. In other words just like many (if not all) of his works, it is in perfect balance between old and the new.

The softness and the gentleness of his design in Bagsværd Church takes even an Athiest such as myself into a very spiritual environment, proving the powers of architecture and in this case Utzon’s mastery.

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