St Petri Sigurd Lewerentz
Located in the rural south of Sweden, a part of the world that is normally considered to be both a remote and cold place, even in summer, Klippan (Swedish for rock) is a village set in gently undulating agricultural fields. For this village, the Swedish architect Sigurd Lewerentz (1885-1975) was invited to design a church in 1962 at the age of 77. It was to become his most important commission, one that absorbed his typological concerns of earlier church designs (e.g. for Johanneberg) as well as formal interests that he held since the early 1930s.
For architectural pilgrims the Church of St. Petri Klippan, the rock on the rock, has since become a counterpoint to another influential modern church the Chapel of Notre Dame at Ronchamp (1955). Whereas the latter is plastic, of poured material, in other words: late Baroque, St. Petri Klippan is haptic, material, visceral to its essence. However, without Ronchamp, St. Petri Klippan would probably not have come about. Similar to other earlier buildings by Lewerentz, whether the Edstrand Villa in Falsterbo (1933-36) or the Theater in Malmö (1928-33), continental functionalism was a touchstone, but only a touchstone. Lewerentz, in concert with a number of colleagues such as Peter Celsing, Klas Anshelm, Bernt Nyberg and Bengt Edman, saw beyond the abstraction of the orthodox modernists to seek a credible materiality.
Thus St. Petri Klippan is both a modern as well as an archaic structure. The brickwork with its irregular mortar joints, its dark color and the light-absorbing interior, is modern in its vertical surfaces and archaic in its vaulting. The Corten steel structure in its materiality is modern, its color, almost merging with the bricks, is archaic. The overall composition of the church is archaically modern.
To this day and for many architects searching for a reflective constructional basis for contemporary architecture, St. Petri Klippan is an ideal for another contemporary architecture: one that is matter-of-factual and poetic at the same time, clear and mysterious, immediately present as well as recessive, credible as architecture as much as it is background to the primary experience.
D.A.P / DISTRIBUTED ART PUBLISHERS
boutique, Architectures, Monographies, Foreign languages,