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The architecture

World-class architecture

At The Maritime Museum of Denmark you will experience a piece of iconic architecture built below ground around an old dry dock in front of Kronborg Castle. The award winning architecture is designed by the internationally renowned architects from BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group.

In 2013 the museum opened around an old dry dock. The museum’s site is one where, between 1882 and 1985, one of Denmark’s most significant and progressive modern shipyards were located. The dock itself was built in 1955.

From a distance the museum is almost invisible. Suddenly, one encounters the abyss of an old concrete dry dock, traversed by glass and aluminium-clad bridges and stairs, arranged as a dramatic, multi-angular composition.

“Due to preserving the views of Prince Hamlets’ Castle’s towers we were not allowed to even stick out a meter above the ground level. We considered it architectural suicide to fill the dry dock with program and therefore decided to empty the dry dock and wrap it with the museum, making it the centerpiece of the exhibition. Instead of drowning the dry dock with galleries we would leave it open. A new kind of urban space – open for new ideas and life”.

– Bjarke Ingels, architect and founder of BIG

The iconic museum is built around an old dry dock and is designed by the internationally renowned architecture company BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). It is quite unlike any other museum in the world and proved immensely challenging to execute.

Placed within an old dry dock below ground, the museum seeks to reflect Denmark’s historical and contemporary role as one of the world’s leading maritime nations. By arranging the galleries in a continuous loop around the dry dock walls, the dock becomes the centerpiece of the exhibition – an open, outdoor area where visitors experience the size of the ship.

461 ground anchors are drilled 42 meters into the ground to secure the floor – actually making the museum the tallest museum in Denmark, even though it’s almost invisible from the outside. Without the anchors the water pressure would make the museum float like a ship.

The history of the Danish Maritime unfolds in a continuous motion within and around the 150 meter long dock, 8 metres below ground thus making the ship shaped dock the centerpiece of the exhibitions.

Uneven floors and irregular angles give the visitor the experience of being on board a real ship.

“Working for 5 years with the old concrete dock structure has been a mixture between archeology and space craft design. Building a museum below sea level has taken construction techniques never used in Denmark before. The old concrete dock with its 1,5m thick walls and 2,5m thick floor has been cut open and reassembled as a modern and precise museum facility. I am truly proud of the work our team has carried out on this project and of the final result.”

– David Zahle, partner, BIG

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