A few days ago we got word that the Herning Center of the Arts building, designed by Steven Holl, broke ground in Denmark. As with other projects by Holl, this building is a playful combination of light, shape and meaning that manages to work both as a museum and as an architectural showpiece.
Designed just over two years ago, the Herning Centre of the Arts building brings together three cultural institutions: the Herning Art Museum, the MidWest ensemble and the Socle du Monde. The 5,600 square meter building will house permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 150-seat auditorium, music rehearsal rooms, a restaurant, a media library and administrative offices.
Inspiration came from the old fabric building which houses the existing art collection. To emphasize the link with its prior history, a textile mesh was used in the formwork of the concrete, giving it a rough, textile-like texture. Natural daylight is brought in through the curved roofs to the gallery spaces which, as per the curator’s requirements, had to be designed to be completely movable to accommodate future use.
In keeping with the fabric theme of the museum, the shape of the building was created to resemble a collection of shirtsleeves when viewed from above, while the roof structure is essentially a high-tech stressed skin structure giving the impression of being within a tent.
Furthermore, the building was created on a completely flat site, which provided the opportunity for the building to break up the site, creating the idea of a series of grassy knolls. To do this, the design team incorporated a green roof and reflecting pools on top of the parking structure. Other sustainable features involve gray water recycling and a geothermal HVAC system.
You may think that we have a small obsession with Steven Holl (see here, here, here, here, here and here), but it’s hard to not be excited whenever a new Holl design surfaces. His buildings have always brought us architectural experimentation of science, color, shape and light, and this new building should be no exception.