The architecture in Christiansfeld

When first arriving in Christiansfeld you notice the large, uniform and simple yellow brick houses with the voluminous red tile roofs placed along completely straight streets with ample plantation. The uniformity of the simple expression of the house fronts, the colours and the proportions lead to an impression of the town as being coherent, calm and harmonic with a strong identity.

The Moravian houses in Christiansfeld are erected in soft-moulded yellow Flensburg bricks, which are characterized by being slightly slimmer than regular bricks. Some buildings have been dressed and yellow-washed.

Carefully planned as a Christian ideal town

Christiansfeld was carefully planned as an ideal Christian town according to a very simple and stringent town plan. The two most important streets of the town are the two parallel streets of Lindegade (Linden Street) and Nørregade (Northern Street) stretching from east to west, and between those two streets, the Church Square has been established as the very centre of the town.

The Church Square features pathways that form a cross with the well/fountain placed in the centre where the two pathways intersect. With this place as the starting point, all streets and building plots have been surveyed and marked out in the so-called “Hamburg Alen”, which is a measure of length corresponding to 57.3 cm. Around the Church Square, the Hall building (the church) and the choir houses – the Sisters’ house and the Widows’ house – have been placed, together with the houses for the minister and the principal.

The buildings have been placed stringently along the straight streets, the squares and the courts. This most often gives visitors an impression of simplicity, frugality, peace and order.

The stringent plantation along the streets and squares of the town and the rectangular gardens convey an experience of nature and airiness. Today, many of these gardens are a great deal smaller than they were originally but the Comenius garden, which was established as a demonstration garden in 2015, gives a clear impression of how the gardens of the houses were structured.

Today, Christiansfeld is a unique example of town planning with long, straight lines and impressive architecture. The old town centre in its entirety is one of the finest examples of Moravian architecture.

Yellow Flensburg stone. Photo: Ole Akhøj

The past version of the "climate shield"

On some of the gables or house fronts facing towards the west and the south, wooden casings have been mounted. Originally, these were made of Pomeranian pine, but today they are made of undressed thuja. These wooden casings served the purpose of protecting the brick walls against wind and weather and at the same time, it was an extra insulating layer.

Most of the house fronts have no decoration except for so-called "fascia boards", which were functioning as a distinction between the ground floor and the first floor.

The Sister' House. Photo: Ole Akhøj
The Moravian Church. Photo: Ole Akhøj

The church with the black roof

The church building is different from the other buildings because it has a roof with black glazed tiles.

The architects behind the individual houses are not known, but we do know that all buildings were to be acknowledged by the Unity in Herrnhut, before they could be erected in Christiansfeld.

The Moravians did not have one single favoured architectural style when building, but from the details, it can be deducted that they were following the contemporary trends – that is to say a mixture of Rococo, Empire and Classicism.

This mixture of styles is most evident when looking at the windows, the doors, the banisters and at the decorations on the individual house fronts.

Architectural details

The house fronts are simple and uniform with windows of equal size and piers of equal size and with the front doors placed in the middle of the buildings.

The entrances with the staircases very often display decorations such as cast iron banisters with various patterns and profiled doors, most often symmetrical double doors with a small window above the door.

Several houses still have four frame rococo windows of the same type as the ones used in connection with the establishment of the town. These windows have four panes in the upper frames and six panes in the lower frames.

In connection with later supplements or renovation works on the windows, the use of classicistic windows with one or two panes in each frame has been aimed at. All windows are made of wood with slim glazing bars and putty rabbets.

Characteristic for the red tile roofs is their volume and the steep slope of between 45 and 50 degrees. The roofs have no projection, but most often feature a slight swaying at the base of the roof - providing so-called eaves boards. Some of the roofs have quarter hips and attics, but no skylights.

The first house in Christiansfeld. Photo: Ole Akhøj

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