Don’t be fooled by these gentle sand dunes—hidden in the landscape is an “invisible museum.” Bjarke Ingels Group designed TIRPITZ, a recently opened museum embedded into Denmark’s protected Blåvand shorelines, also a historic war site. The TIRPITZ museum offers a unique experience within a building that skillfully camouflages into the dunes, providing a sharp contrast to its neighbor, a monolithic German WWII bunker.
Developed by Varde Museums, TIRPITZ is a cultural complex comprising four exhibitions inside a renovated and expanded wartime bunker. The 2,800-square-meter “invisible museum” is mostly buried underground and looks nearly imperceptible from above until visitors draw close to the heavy bunker and see the walls cut into the dunes from all sides. An outdoor courtyard provides access to the four underground galleries—illuminated with a surprising abundance of natural light let in by 6-meter-tall glass panels—that connect to the historic bunker.
“The architecture of the TIRPITZ is the antithesis to the WWII bunker,” said Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner at BIG. “The heavy hermetic object is countered by the inviting lightness and openness of the new museum. The galleries are integrated into the dunes like an open oasis in the sand – a sharp contrast to the Nazi fortress’ concrete monolith. The surrounding heath-lined pathways cut into the dunes from all sides descending to meet in a central clearing, bringing daylight and air into the heart of the complex. The bunker remains the only landmark of a not so distant dark heritage that upon close inspection marks the entrance to a new cultural meeting place.”
Dutch agency Tinker Imagineers designed the exhibitions to showcase permanent and temporary themed experiences that adhere to a storyline, from the Hitler-related ‘Army of Concrete’ to the exhibition of amber in ‘Gold of the West Coast.’ The building is built mainly of concrete, steel, glass, and wood—all materials found in the existing structures and natural landscape. The groundbreaking museum is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors annually.
Images by Mike Bink Photography, Laurian Ghinitoiu, John Seymour, Rasmus Hjortshoj, Colin John Seymour, Rasmus Bendix