In Raili and Reima Pietilä’s oeuvre, the Lieksa Church is a unique example of using Classicist themes in a modernist church. It was built on the site of the wooden Pielisjärvi Church (C. L. Engel 1836), which was destroyed in a fire in 1979. The Pietiläs won an invited competition the same year. The new building follows the cruciform plan of the old church, but the required secondary spaces make it somewhat asymmetrical.
The massive stone base, the white painted timber cladding and the dome also refer to Engel’s church. However, the new church was built using the latest concrete technology – for example, the dome is made up of prestressed arches and thin cylindrical shells. Natural light enters the inner space through the skylights between the double arches, thus creating a bright cross above the parishioners. The light cross is visible in the surrounding area. The large window behind the altar opens up a view towards the bell tower that survived the fire. In the details, the Pietiläs drew inspiration from traditional embroidery patterns typical of the North Karelia region.
Text: Kristo Vesikansa