A new attraction in Odense, Denmark, will do justice to the Danish fairytale author’s “great fame and completely unique fairytale universe”.
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Associates, who also designed the 2020 Olympic stadium in Tokyo, won the competition to design a new Hans Christian Andersen Museum in the Danish city of Odense, the hometown of the renowned author. The design will revolve around the writer’s popular fairytales.
Best known for works like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling’, Andersen’s fairytales have been translated into well over 150 languages. Over 140 years after his death, he remains “completely and without comparison the world’s most famous Dane” in the words of Johan de Mylius, a renowned expert on the author.
Kuma’s design for the museum features a series of cylindrical volumes with glass and latticed timber facades, and scooped green roofs.
The financing of the new museum, H.C. Andersen Museum, which totals 305 million Danish kroner (about 45 million U.S. dollars), has been completed, 225 million kroner by the A.P. Møller Foundation, 20 million kroner by the Augustinus Foundation, , while the City of Odense has donated the remaining 60 million kroner.
“The winning project of Kengo Kuma & Associates is fantastic because it – like Andersen in his fairytales – uniquely manages to conjure up the big themes in the small things and to connect the local aspects with international ones: The new Hans Christian Andersen Museum adds new magic to the museum, new magic to the place – the new Hans Christian Andersen Museum adds new magic to Odense,” Odense Mayor Anker Boye said in a statement.
The museum will also provide a new home for Tinderbox, a children’s center that is themed around Andersen’s famous fables.
Although the author’s childhood Odense home already serves as the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the new project will focus more on the author’s famous fairytales. The small yellow house, thought to be the birthplace of the writer, was opened as the H.C. Andersen Museum to document his life in 1930.
Two thirds of the 5,600-square-metre building will be situated below ground, to leave room for ample outdoor space including a sunken courtyard.
British exhibition design agency Event Communications is responsible for the content design of the museum.
“Precisely the fairytale touch is lacking from the present museum, which concentrates on his personal biography. For that reason, one great wish is to create a new setting and a well-staged dissemination that do justice to his great fame and completely unique fairytale universe,” said Boyer. “I am sure that the new museum will make Hans Christian Andersen feel even more present and alive for the children and young people of the city, while I also expect the new museum to significantly boost the city’s culture tourism. Right in the middle of Odense, it will blend in with the new neighborhood that is currently being built on the old street called Thomas B. Thriges Gade,” the mayor added.
Kuma’s renderings show the upper floor of the complex surrounded by “enchanted” gardens with large trees, lawns and a circular pond surrounded by a curving box hedge. Tall hedges will also wrap sections of the building.
“It was important to us that gardens, building and exhibition design were envisaged as an interconnected whole that clearly captures the spirit of Andersen and brings out the essence of the city of Odense at the same time,” said Odense’s head of cultural affairs Jane Jegind.
The construction of the new H.C. Andersen Museum is expected to begin early 2017 and to be completed in 2020.
New Hans Christian Andersen Museum, written by Tor Kjolberg