Church design reaches for the heavens

Excelsior in Ulsteinvik, Norway by Snøhetta

Excelsior is Latin and roughly translates as “ever upwards” or “even higher”. It is also the name of the winning design for a new wooden church by leading Norwegian architects Snøhetta. The church will sit alongside the existing 19th-century church – also made of wood – in the small Norwegian town of Ulsteinvik and it will serve multiple functions: in addition to a large place of worship, there are also administrative rooms and at the very top sits a small chapel. The architects see their design as a “layer cake structure” where the lower layer supports the upper ones. Everything will be made from solid wood panels, but the architects are as yet unwilling to reveal which wood and how everything will be held together. They are, however, happy to talk about the choice of name: “In the church room one can find both the horizontal axis in the community and pilgrimage, and the vertical axis in the connection between heaven and earth through the skylight,” write Snøhetta on their website.


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