Near the center of Helsinki, Finland, in the Töölö neighborhood, one can find the Temppeliaukio Church, an unusual-looking Lutheran church nestled between granite rocks. Approaching the square from Fredrikinkatu street, the church appears subtly, a flat dome barely rising above its surrounding landscape. An unassuming entrance, flanked by concrete walls, leads visitors through a dark hallway, and into the light-filled sanctuary carved directly into the bedrock. The exposed rock walls earned it the alternative name “The Church of the Rock.” To contrast the heaviness of the materials, skylights surrounding the dome create a play of light and shadows and a feeling of airiness.
The church is the result of an architectural competition won by the architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. Their original solution was recognized not only for its creativity but also for the respect it showed to the competition’s goal: “to include the organization plan for the whole Temppeliaukio Square, taking into attention that as great part as possible of the rock outcrop of the square to be preserved.” The winning proposal achieves this by embedding the church inside the rock and placing parish facilities on the edges of the hillock. This article explores the story behind the Temppeliaukio Church both narratively and visually, through the lens of Aleksandra Kostadinovska, a professional photographer from Skopje.