A dry dock is a hybrid, changeable space in a harbour. Empty and invisible when unused, it becomes a base for mobile, temporary architecture when a ship comes in for maintenance work or reparations.
The Danish Maritime Museum was seeking a unique spatial and historical setting. It found just such a place in Helsingör, a city north of Copenhagen, at the dock that sits between Kronborg Castle, where Shakespeare set Hamlet, and a daring new cultural centre. The museum is meant to reflect and showcase Denmark's ancient and contemporary role as a maritime power, finding a balance between respect for the past and vision for the future. BIG was entrusted with interpreting and fleshing out this idea. The design preserves the empty space of the dock, turning this void into a central element around which the museum exhibition areas unwind, but completely underground.
This makes the dock a new urban space, with new relations with the surrounding levels. At the height of the city, the glazed gangways crossing the empty space connect the new cultural centre with Kronborg Castle, while at museum level, they link internal spaces and provide differing views of the dock. Once visitors get into the empty basin, they can imagine the size of the ships and the old shipyard activities, or they can touch the solid, rough concrete lit up by the light reflected off the new steel and glass structures.
With its almost invisible presence, the museum becomes a key part of the old harbour, a new terrain and surface that connects history and future.
Location: Helsingør, Denmark
Client: Helsingør Municipality, Helsingør Maritime Museum
Gross Floor Area: 6500 m2
Architects: BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group
Partner-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle
Project Leader: David Zahle
Site Architect: Jeppe Ecklon
Design 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
Client Consultant: Alectia
Structural, MEP: Rambøll
Fire: Freddy Madsen Ingeniører
Exhibition Designer: Kossmann.dejong
Product Design: KiBiSi
Photography: 1/23-25/39 © BIG, 24 © Rasmus Hjortsh