It maybe Spring, but a chilling wind is driving Copenhagen’s wind weathered kin into the former church, Absalon or as I discover lunch is being served and the local postman is tucking away at his pulled-pork. The congregation are a delightful mix of locals, creative dudes discussing design briefs, mothers nurturing their young ones and wandering tourists taking in the welcoming and calm atmosphere.
With the fall of weekly attendances in Copenhagen’s churches and the continued rise of secularism in this secular paradise, the Church Of Denmark, Folkekirken, was forced to reevaluate and sell 14 of its 91 churches in 2013. Church conversions in our city landscapes are not uncommon and since the millennium, many churches have been transformed into creative office & studio spaces, luxury apartments, student accommodation, restaurants and even piano bars. Redefining these former spiritual sanctuaries makes sense as many of them have tremendous architectural value and are often situated in historical locations.
Absalon Church in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro densely populated neighborhood was bought by the business developer, entrepreneur and former founder of the successful Tiger retail empire, Lennart Lajboschitz and co-founder Sus Lajboschitz. The transformation of this former 1.300m² church to a communal haven, has become one of Copenhagen’s success stories. From early morning yoga to communal evening meals, the center attracts 1.000 daily guests, providing Vesterbro’s diverse local residents a social forum to interact with friends, neighbors and strangers.
Before Absalon opened its doors in 2015, the interior space underwent a minor metamorphosis, with the international renowned Danish artist, Tal R in collaboration with the architect, Allan Lyth, creating a vibrant color scheme in contrast to the previous solemn white-painted walls. From ceremonial to informal. Today, Absalon is open from 7am until midnight, a creative and social hub of activities, facilitated by 40 employees and open to all. Indeed, Absalon’s communal kitchen has become a gastronomic magnet for many of Copenhagen’s residents. Truly a communal haven.
Photo credits: Phillip Mills