The Bagsværd Church is one of not too many buildings that Danish Jørn Utzon (1918 – 2008) has realised in his home country.
The architect is more or less synonym with his grand masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House. That has become a bit of an icon of not just Danish architecture, but of architecture as such.
Although not that iconic, the Bagsværd Church is famous in its own right, featuring a spectacular, vaulted concrete ceiling.
One of a kind
Jørn Utzon is an absolutely unique character in Danish architecture. So his works are actually not the best representation of what Danish architecture is about. The ceilings in the Bagsværd Church, as well as the iconic shells of the Sydney Opera House, are both strong and expressive, formal statements. Something one rarely finds in Danish architecture. They are artistic elements that were/are alien to most Danish architects, who are focusing on function, function and function.
However, profoundly Danish thinking is embedded in the modular structure that builds up to these iconic shapes and spaces.
Standard elements and modules
The ceiling in the church has its own structural logic (imagine a curved piece of paper). And the shells of the Opera House are pieces of spheres, made out of modular units. Modules and standardised components are key in Jørn Utzon’s work and philosophy.
His Kingo houses (also know as the Roman houses), and the Fredensborg houses, features no spectacular expressions. They both consist of modest, repetitive units, scattered in the archetypal, Danish landscape.
At the Bagsværd Church, a modular, concrete building system circumscribes the main space with secondary spaces and hallways, so it appears from the outside almost as a warehouse that in no way reveals what’s inside. The inner spaces are largely isolated from the outside, and daylight comes from skylights and from interior courtyards.
The church is located in the outskirts of Copenhagen, in a quiet, inconspicuous neighbourhood. It takes 30 minutes to get there by public transportation. So I recommend checking the website before going. The church sometimes closes due to services, funerals etc.
See my full map of Copenhagen Architecture.