Leaving 60 year old dock walls untouched, the galleries of the new Danish National Maritime Museum in Helsingør are placed below ground and arranged in a continuous loop around dry dock walls – making the dock the centerpiece of the exhibition – an open, outdoor area where visitors experience the scale of ship building.
Designed by Danish architects BIG with Kossmann.dejong, Rambøll, Freddy Madsen and KiBiSi, they have married crucial historic elements with an innovative concept of galleries and way-finding. BIG’s renovation scheme reflects Denmark’s historical and contemporary role as one of the world’s leading maritime nations.
Located in Helsingør, 50 km north of Copenhagen, the new 6,000 m² museum finds itself in a unique historical context adjacent to one of Denmark’s most important buildings, Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site – known from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is the last addition to Kulturhavn Kronborg, a joint effort involving the renovation of the Castle and two new buildings – offering a variety of culture experiences to residents and visitors to Helsingør.
“A series of three double-level bridges span the dry dock, serving both as an urban connection, as well as providing visitors with short-cuts to different sections of the museum.” says BIG. “The harbor bridge closes off the dock while serving as harbor promenade; the museum’s auditorium serves as a bridge connecting the adjacent Culture Yard with the Kronborg Castle; and the sloping zig-zag bridge navigates visitors to the main entrance.”
“This bridge unites the old and new as the visitors descend into the museum space overlooking the majestic surroundings above and below ground. The long and noble history of the Danish Maritime unfolds in a continuous motion within and around the dock, 7 meters below the ground. All floors – connecting exhibition spaces with the auditorium, classroom, offices, café and the dock floor within the museum – slope gently creating exciting and sculptural spaces.”
Says Bjarke Ingels, “By wrapping the old dock with the museum program we simultaneously preserve the heritage structure while transforming it to a courtyard bringing daylight and air in to the heart of the submerged museum. Turning the dock inside out resolved a big dilemma: Out of respect for Hamlet’s Castle we needed to remain completely invisible and underground – but to be able to attract visitors we needed a strong public presence. Leaving the dock as an urban abyss provides the museum with an interior façade facing the void and at the same time offers the citizens of Helsingør a new public space sunken 8 m below the level of the sea.”
Says David Zahle, Partner-in-Charge, “For 5 years we have been working on transforming the old concrete dock into a modern museum, which required an archaeologist care and spacecraft designer’s technical skills. The old lady is both fragile and tough; the new bridges are light and elegant. Building a museum below sea level has taken construction techniques never used in Denmark before. The old concrete dock with its 1.5 m thick walls and 2.5 m thick floor has been cut open and reassembled as a modern and precise museum facility. The steel bridges were produced in giant sections on a Chinese steel wharf and transported to Denmark on the biggest ship that has ever docked in Helsingør. The steel sections weigh up to 100 tons a piece and are lifted on site by the two largest mobile cranes in northern Europe. I am truly proud of the work our team has carried out on this project and of the final result.”
BIG CREDIT LIST
Partner-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle
Project leader: David Zahle
Site architect: Jeppe Ecklon
Team: Alina Tamosiunaite, Alysen Hiller, Ana Merino, Andy Yu , Annette Jensen, Ariel Joy Norback Wallner, Christian Alvarez, Claudio Moretti, Dennis Rasmussen, Felicia Guldberg, Gül Ertekin, Henrik Kania, Jan Magasanik, Johan Cool, John Pries Jensen, Jonas Pattern, Karsten Hammer Hansen, Kirstine Ragnhild, Malte Chloe, Marc Jay, Maria Mavriku, Masatoshi Oka, Oana Simionescu, Pablo Labra, Peter Rieff, Qianyi Lim, Rasmus Pedersen, Rasmus Rodam, Rune Hansen, Sara Sosio, Sebastian Latz, Tina Lund Højgaard, Tina Troster, Todd Bennet, Xi Chen, Xing Xiong, Xu Li
Alectia (client consultant), Kossmann.dejong (exhibition designers), Rambøll (structure, MEP), Freddy Madsen Ingeniører (fire consultant), KiBiSi (product design)
CLIENT: Maritime Museum Build