Designing churches has been a noble discipline in architecture for centuries. In fact, the construction of the first Danish churches took place over a millennium ago. In more modern times, two Danish churches in particular have attracted a lot of attention for their architectural quality, namely Grundtvig’s Church in Copenhagen and Enghøj Church, each known for their own distinctive character.
Starting off in Denmark’s capital city, Grundtvig’s Church in the Bispebjerg district of Copenhagen was designed by Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint in 1913. As well as being the father of renowned Danish architect Kaare Klint, Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint himself was also a skilled architect.
Jensen-Klint’s design for Grundtvig’s Church involved a fusion of architectural styles. The architect studied Danish village churches with stepped gables before taking on board the project to design Grundtvig’s Church. The village churches’ traditional building techniques, materials and decoration inspired his design. In this way, Jensen-Klint fused the modern geometric forms of brick expressionism with the classical vertical shapes of Gothic architecture.
One of the most noteworthy features of the church building is the west façade. Reminiscent of the exterior of a church organ, it includes a 49 metres’ tall bell tower. The strong verticality of the grand façade was designed this way to guide one’s eyes towards the heavens.
Standing on the highest point in the landscape, Enghøj Church, near the city of Randers, was designed as a processional church: strict, with a clear axis and a dramatic, down-turned roof. Designed in 1994 by Danish architectural firm Henning Larsen Architects, the church is a fine example of modern Danish church architecture.
Coming from small openings in the long walls and from a slot between the roof and the wall, light penetrates into the church. Finally, light shines from the west gable, where the altar is placed in a niche with sunshine surrounding it.
A neighbouring community centre consists of small, low houses with courtyards. The church and the community centre are made of brick, while the walls inside Enghøj Church are made of concrete. The roof inside the church is designed with visible, closely spaced wooden rafters, while the floor is completed with white concrete tiles.
A curious fact is that the church is a popular excursion place for photographers and photography students due to its placement high in the landscape, and due to the distinctive character of the natural light inside the church.