There was a particular type of soft Scandinavian Modernism that greatly appealed to British architects. It was a humanised, bricky style with gently pitched roofs and Protestant self-effacement. The Stockholm suburb of Årsta dates precisely from this movement. Designed in the years following the Second World War by architect brothers Erik and Tore Ahlsén, Årsta is a gentle, socially cohesive suburb on a rocky site built around a core of community structures. Johan Celsing’s new church abuts one of these community buildings at the rocky edge of the settlement.
The existing buildings on the site exist from 1968 - and a slender campanile already stands in a kind of profane space, setting up a civic realm that has been patiently waiting for a church for decades. The new building is, in its way, every bit as Scandinavian as its neighbours yet also radically different from the gentle suburbanity of Swedish modernity. Instead, it is rooted in an offshoot of that style, something closer to the raw, elemental experience of the churches of Lewerentz or of Celsing’s father, one of the great and relatively unsung 20th-century church architects, Peter Celsing.