Community church built with locally sourced and cost-efficient timber

Knarvik’s new community church with its wooden façade and untreated pine interior uses locally-sourced materials to provide a multifunctional space for the whole community.

Knarvik Community Church, Developed by: Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

In the 1800s, wooden churches were a common sight in Norway, but were often painted to ‘hide’ their true construction material. Knarvik Community Church, opened in 2014, sets to correct that trend and retain a nod to the cultural heritage with a large timber construction that takes inspiration from its surrounding rocky, coastal landscape. With a central location overlooking the town centre, the church has become a distinct part of the town’s identity, with a pre-weathered and untreated wooden façade. On the pine interior of the 2,250m2 building, church pews have been done away with to reveal a large flexible space that can be used for cultural events housing up to 500 people, emphasising the community aspect of the project.   

In addition to the environmental and visual benefits that building the church in wood brings, economics was a major driver. As construction began shortly after the economic downturn, building with local pine transpired to be the most cost-effective way to deliver a landmark new church in Knarvik. The key to the economic and environmental success was local sourcing, with the pine wood heralding only a short distance from the site, reducing transport costs and emissions for the project. The architects had developed their experience working with wood through earlier, smaller projects, allowing the church to be delivered without any major construction challenges, thanks in part to the rigorous involvement of the community throughout the design and construction process.  


  • innovation benifits icon: innovation benifits icon
  • innovation benifits title: ENVIRONMENT
  • innovation benifits text: The pine used in the project was locally sourced and untreated, reducing transport emissions of the materials and eliminating the use of chemicals in the construction materials.
  • partnership benifits icon: partnership benifits icon
  • partnership benifits title: ECONOMICS
  • partnership benifits text: Of all the tenders put in for the church, the wooden design ended up being the most cost effective, thanks to local sourcing of materials that needed relatively little processing.
  • economic benifits Icon: economic benifits Icon
  • economic benifits title: SOCIAL & LOCAL
  • economic benifits text: As a community church, the building is set to serve the whole community, not just through religion, but with a flexible space that can host cultural and musical events for the whole town’s benefit.

The Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat is hosted by EIT Climate-KIC

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.