The new Natural History Museum of Denmark is a subterranean wonderland

Located in Copenhagen, the building by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter adds a vibrant urban space while getting ready to be an exciting venue for learning about natural history.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : May 24, 2021

Having won the international competition in 2012, the new Natural History Museum of Denmark by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter is set to open its doors to the public in 2023. The new museum is conceptualised as a congregation of the natural sciences, by bringing together the Geological, Zoological and Botanical Museums. Located within Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden, this museum will be in the heart of the city. The masterplan of the new museum repurposes some of the surrounding buildings and reformulates parts of the existing landscape to create a harmonious flow. The entire project is a seamless extension of the existing Botanical Garden, with the seamlessness being a key concept of the proposal, driven by the desire to keep the listed Botanical Garden intact as the new museum’s structure is largely underground.

Rendering of the Ocean Hall, exterior view | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
Rendering of the Ocean Hall, exterior view Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

The museum's collections contain nearly 14 million natural history objects with specimens from all three branches to be housed by the new structure. The artifacts have been collected from all over the world, over 400 years, and their presentation and storage in the new building is almost a symbol of the institution’s intent to create the best framework and facilities for scientific research. Tied to the University of Copenhagen , the structures have the additional task of being a portal to disseminate knowledge beyond the scientific community, namely school children.

  • The proposed structure embraces and fill out the spaces in between the majestic historical buildings | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
    The proposed structure embraces and fill out the spaces in between the majestic historical buildings Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter
  • The exhibition halls occupy multiple underground levels | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
    The exhibition halls occupy multiple underground levels Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

The proposal by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter consists of two key additions. The underground structure is located in a corner of the Botanical Garden, near the glass greenhouse. The subterranean structure consisting of exhibition halls, storage rooms and display spaces occupies multiple levels, meant to create an engaging spatial and sensory experience. The entire architectural space is meant to be an active stage for the scientific story of geology. The soft flowing lines of the interior spaces are reflected in the undulated roof as well. At the ground level the roof is finished in a greyish black material, meant to resemble mineral deposits left behind by prehistoric glacier streams. The roof also has strategically placed oval skylights and light wells, which connect the ground level and the subterranean levels. This also alludes to the existence of something magical and exciting going on underground.

L: Rendering of the Ocean Hall, interior view. R: View of the site under construction | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
L: Rendering of the Ocean Hall, interior view. R: View of the site under construction Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

The second addition is an organically shaped glass structure built within the interior atrium of the Sølvtorvet complex. This dome-like structure is going to house the museum's unique collection of large mammal endoskeletons. Currently called the Ocean Hall, it rises above the historical buildings and is meant to become a distinct landmark in the city. The cross section of the dome resembles an aquatic display tank, drawing an intriguing visual parallel. The complex itself is going to undergo an intense renovation and will be dedicated primarily to research education and administrative functions.

  • On-site images of the current construction | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
    On-site images of the current construction Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter
  • Construction of the glass dome | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
    Construction of the glass dome Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter
  • On-site images of the scaffolding and foundation | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
    On-site images of the scaffolding and foundation Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter
  • On-site images of the current construction | Natural History Museum | Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter | STIRworld
    On-site images of the current construction Image: Courtesy of Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

Project Details

Name: Natural History Museum
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Area: 31,300 m²
Year: Construction 2019-2023
Client: The Danish Building and Property Agency, University of Copenhagen
Collaborations: Claus Pryds Arkitekter Aps in competition phase
Engineer: EKJ Rådgivende Ingeniører A/S
Landscape: Professor & landscape architect Steen Høyer, Julie Kierkegaard A/S

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