Steven Holl Architects’ Herning Museum of Contemporary Art Wins RIBA International Award

Steven Holl Architects has received a 2010 RIBA International Award for the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, which was selected as one of nine awards winners for projects outside the United Kingdom. The RIBA International Awards are given for projects that have “high architectural standards and make a substantial contribution to the local environment.”

Having opened its doors to the public on September 9, 2009 to provide renewed cultural strength to the region of central Jutland in Denmark, the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art unites three distinct cultural institutions – the Herning Center of the Arts, the MidtVest Ensemble and the Socle du Monde – in an innovative forum, which combines visual art and music,. It includes permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 150-seat auditorium, music rehearsal rooms, a restaurant, a media library, and administrative offices.

The museum is sited near Herning’s original Angli shirt factory. It was the interaction between the factory owner and Arte Povera artists, such as Piero Manzoni, that enabled such a collection of art to be created. The shirt collar-shaped plan of the 1960s factory building inspired the shape of the new museum building. Viewed from above, the roof geometry resembles a collection shirt sleeves laid over the gallery spaces. Truck tarps were inserted into the white concrete formwork to yield a fabric texture to the building’s exterior walls.

The curved roofs bring balanced natural lights to the galleries, and the loose edges of the plan offer spaces for the café, auditorium, lobby, and offices. Gallery spaces are orthogonal and finely proportioned for art, while overhead curved roof sections transport natural light into the spaces. The exhibition spaces can be easily closed, while all peripheral spaces remain open for after-hours use. The design fuses landscape and architecture in a one-level building and aims at “building the site.” The surrounding landscape is partially shaped in the reverse-curve of the geometry of the roof.