Steven Holl Architects’ Herning Center of the Arts in Herning, Denmark breaks ground today. The Herning Center of the Arts unites, for the first time, three distinct cultural institutions: the Herning Art Museum, the MidWest ensemble and the Socle du Monde. The new Center is intended to be an innovative forum combining visual art and music.
In November 2005, Steven Holl Architects won the international competition for the Herning Center of the Arts, with a design fusing landscape and architecture in a one-level building. The project will include permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 150-seat auditorium, music rehearsal rooms, a restaurant, a media library, administrative offices and an active landscape, and is scheduled to be completed for the turn of the year 2008/2009.
The 2005 jury reported: ‘The design perfectly meets the competition’s wishes for a combination between openness and ? treasure trove’. In addition, it answers the desire for a flexible building in terms of how and when it is used. The building will often be open when the actual museum is closed. A majority of the jury agreed that this building will make the new Herning Center of the Arts into something significant and exciting.’
The design for the 5,600 sq.m. center aims at “building the site”. In transforming the flat field, a new 12,000 sq. m. landscape of grass mounds and pools conceals all the parking and service areas while shaping inspiring bermed landscape spaces focused on reflecting pools positioned in the south sun. Herning’s prominent relationship with textiles and art formed the inspiration for the design concept. Steven Holl states: ‘Part of the current art collection is housed in an old shirt factory in Herning. This 1960s building was designed in the form a shirt collar and is across the street from the site. It was the interaction between the factory owner and Arte Povera artists such as Pierro Manzoni that enabled such a special collection of art to exist in Herning. A fabric theme is carried throughout the project from the shape of the building which resembles a collection of shirtsleeves viewed from above, through the wall finishes. Drawing further on the work of Manzoni in his A-Chrome series, a textile mesh is utilized in the formwork of the white concrete.
The curved roofs utilize a two way truss system able to span in multiple directions allowing for a freedom between the roof structure and plan. The undersides of the interior are a simple white plaster emphasizing the geometry of the roof. All gallery spaces are orthogonal and simple with fine proportions in respect to the art, while overhead the curved roof sections bring in natural light. The internal gallery walls in lightweight construction can be moved as per a curator’s requirements.
Green aspects of the design, including a geothermal HVAC system and grey water recycling, set this apart as an exemplary design for 21st century museum architecture.
Steven Holl Architects is currently working on several projects in Scandinavia. In addition to the Herning Center of the Arts, the office is working on the Knut Hamsun Center (Hamarøy, Norway) and two residential projects, T-Husene (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Meander (Helsinki, Finland). The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki, Finland, 1998), is considered to be one of Steven Holl Architect’s most important museum works, recently by the highly lauded Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), which opened on June 9th 2007.