Bagsværd Church

Copenhagen, Denmark | C.1976

Photo Credit: Callum Hansey

Considered a masterpiece of contemporary church architecture, Denmark’s Bagsvaerd Church is a Lutheran church known for its naturally illuminated interior. Located just outside of Copenhagen, the Church has a storied history dating back to the early 16th century.

The Church’s story begins with an ending when in 1538, the King of Denmark ordered the standing church in Bagsvaerd to be torn down so that its stone could be used to repair a Catholic bishop’s palace. Following the Reformation, the palace was utilized as a seminary for the Lutheran church. Parishioners used a church in the neighboring municipality of Gladsaxe as their new place of worship.

It wasn’t until 1967 – over 400 years later – that the opportunity to build a new, permanent church in Bagsvaerd arose. When architect Jorn Utzon – the designer of Australia’s Sydney Opera House – submitted a concept for a church at an architectural exhibition in Gladsaxe, the congregational council took interest and they asked him to submit a design proposal.

Utzon submitted his concept in 1968, and after a lengthy approval process and eight years of construction, the Church was complete. Situated in a suburban setting, the Church features an austere façade that includes concrete panels and white glazed tiles. An aluminum roof with glass sections give it a rather industrial look. Yet, its magnificence shines within its walls.

Inspired by “drifting clouds above the sea”, Utzon designed the interior to feature natural lighting through high lateral windows and skylights. He also designed the Church’s altar consisting of thin white tiles known as Flensborg bricks and colorful textiles, carpet, and ceramic decor design by his daughter. Today, the Bagsvaerd Church is a mainstay of the community where it offers services, concerts, and hosts art exhibits.

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