Next to Varnhem Abbey in Västergötland, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of an old chapel built to serve the local farming community. It dates from the 10th century and may well be Sweden’s oldest Christian church. To make it accessible to visitors, the old walls and graves had to be protected from the weather. An overbuilding now protects the foundations, while also forming an airy space for the visitors.
Opened a year ago, the overbuilding is inspired by the coming together of religions and the question of how different faiths can find common ground. With this in mind, AIX Arkitekter created an equilateral triangular design that symbolises a trinity. The glulam roof trusses are placed on horizontal sills, also made from locally-manufactured glulam, that in turn rest on a number of concrete plinths. Outside, the sloping walls form a pitched roof treated with pine tar. Inside, the visitors can drink in the history of the site and also visit the old crypt. They learn more about Kata, the woman who ran the local farm, and can view her grave through the glass floor.