Denmark’s oldest surviving medieval site is finally accessible to the public thanks to an elegant architectural solution. MAP Architects restored access to the 700-year-old Kalø Slotsruin with a minimally invasive entrance and staircase that allow views of the archaeological layers and surrounding landscape. The extremely challenging task of creating access without damaging the ruins was made possible through the 3D scanning of every single brick and computer generated models.
The Danish Ministry of the Environment, with support from Realdania, commissioned MAP Architects to design visitor access to Kalø Slotsruin, a Danish archeological gem located on an isthmus projecting from the Jutland peninsula. The 38-square-meter intervention is a timber zigzagging staircase that winds up the three-story high and two-story deep brick tower that has lacked an internal structure for centuries. The strategically located landings allow visitors to view the historical layers of construction up close and culminate in a pathway that opens up the sky.
“The desire to allow the visitor to ‘touch’ the archaeological layers of the tower, and simultaneously ‘leave’ the ruin and ‘levitate’ in the landscape was pivotal,” write the architects. “The architectural gesture is the geometric result of connecting openings and landings, while aiming to offer the richness of the archaeological site and the surrounding landscape.” Clad in the ash wood, the steel-framed staircase is supported with only four points to minimize damage to the historical monument and entrances are made through the existing eroded openings. The staircase was prefabricated offsite in seven large pieces and then assembled in place with a crane. The project has been nominated for the 2017 European Mies van der Rohe Award.
Images © David A. Garcia and Bjørn Pierri Enevoldsen