October 26: Björkitecture

2012/10/26 § 4 Comments

On this day in 1986 the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik was consecrated after almost four decades of construction.

The church does not always look as it does above–like it is the latest addition to the murky gloom of Mordor; sometimes it looks like the latest addition to the murky gloom of Mordor as illuminated by the subterranean uruk-hai furnaces.  It is actually a church, built to serve a congregation, and is named in honor of Hallgrímur Pétursson, a seventeenth-century Icelandic hymnist and clergyman.  But it was also meant to be a symbol, as is shown by the fact that the builders commenced construction with the tower rather than the altar end, which is more significant to the service of the liturgy.

Rising to a height of 244 feet, the great tower is one of the highest built things in Iceland.  Its striking silhouette suggests that official Architect Of Iceland Guðjón Samúelsson (1887-1950) had some Expressionist inkling; its formal similarity to another aggressively jagged church in another cold, remote land distant land seems pretty apparent.  But rather than that inspiration, Samúelsson claimed it was the local scenery, and the basalt lava flows of Iceland (muses don’t normally do geology, but this is kind of interesting), that were the core of his idea.  You know where else they have lava flows?  That’s right.

Image: it gets dark in Iceland (from this source

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