Funeral Chapel

Klockarebackens Kapell

Höör, 1972

Nyberg

Nyberg’s chapel in Höör is a precise exercise in the balance of geometry and material. Its brick shell seems a living mass as it breaths warm air from its cracks and openings, moving with the light that traces its raw surfaces. A simple concept: two roof structures, one trapped within the mass and another free in the landscape—linked by an ascending exterior and linear interior—solve programatic constraints with a rich spatial sequence. The competition was won by the section’s design, which gracefully segregates the inner workings of a funeral chapel with flexible worship space above.

The coffered slabs above could not contrast more with the brick shell as they meet at impossibly thin steel plates. This gap holds a dense concentration of thoughtful details; a conversion point of two radically different systems in keeping with Nyberg’s attitude towards making the most of a joint. The build­ing is an essay in vague tectonics; an elevator core meets a stair at a thin mirrored piece of glass, a doorframe meets a wall via a sandwich of stacked plywood on its surface, and structure meets enclosed at aluminum-foil-clad concrete reflecting a blue tinted sky via the paint on the waffle slab’s edge. No matter how grey the Swedish winter gets, there are always bright blue skies in the Chapel in Höör.

The golden incandescence of the bulbs in the slab’s coffers contrast the cool blue daylight temperature light that floods through the crack between structure and enclosure. This gap occasionally wraps edges for large expanses of glass clipped in place via a complex system of steel framing.

Lastly there are the pillars of weathering steel angles bolted together in a cruciform pattern showing edges and thickness that rise triumphantly up only to blossom in four directions before they meet the slab. With precision, the same thin steel plates that hold the roof slab in precarious equilibrium with the brick shell serve to isolate the column capitals from what they support as they meet the exaggerated reveal between the slab’s coffers.

The Chapel at Höör is the product of an open architectural competition. The original program was in connection with a burial chapel. However, the discreet manner in which the handling of coffins was solved provided the congregation with the oppor­tunity of inaugurating the building as a chapel, which was open for all forms of church activities. Among other things the architecture idea involves two square free roofs, one inside and one outside of the building. The plain lantern-light glass in the light openings in the roof is simple windscreen glass with electrical wiring for the thermostat controlled snow melting and condensation control. The other glazing is the form of thermo-panels.

—Architect’s Description