A few months after being commissioned to design the new Tokyo Olympic stadium, Kengo Kuma has another notable project in tow for 2020: the new Hans Christian Andersen Museum in the city of Odense. Collaborating with Danish firms Cornelius+Vöge Architects, MASU Planning Landscape Architects, and Eduard Troelsgård Engineers, the Kengo Kuma team beat out tough competition from fellow high-profile firms like Barozzi Veiga, Snøhetta, and even Danish natives BIG.
The jury picked the Kengo Kuma team's approach for the way it captures the essence of Hans Christian Andersen — the prolific Danish writer of beloved childhood fairy tales like “The Emperor's New Clothes”, “The Ugly Duckling”, and “Thumbelina” — and his birthplace Odense.
Partly based on the final winning exhibition-design concept by British designers Event Communications in a previous competition, Kengo Kuma's proposal for the museum itself features green roofs, wrapping hedges, a facade of glass and latticed timber, and gardens galore. The new museum will focus on H.C. Andersen's magical universe of fairy tales.
“The fact that Kengo Kuma is from Japan only goes to show that sometimes you have to travel abroad to find home,” said Odense city mayor and competition jury chairperson Anker Boye in a statement. “The proposal has a unique quality that captures the spirit of both Hans Christian Andersen and Odense, has striking international calibre and is locally embedded at the same time. It is a project that I can only imagine taking place here in Odense. But at the same time, it points far beyond anything local or national. It is internationally ‘Odensean’.”
Incorporating Odense's main street Thomas B. Thriges Gade, the 9,000 square-meter area of the project also comprises the existing Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the Tinderbox Cultural Centre for Children, and Lotzes Have park. Featuring 5,600 square meters of floor space, two-thirds of the new museum will be built underground to make room for the creation of a magical garden space in the heart of Odense.
In planning the project, the was imperative that the garden, building, and exhibition design of the new museum cohesively captures the spirit of Andersen and Odense, as described by Jane Jegind, Odense's Alderwoman for Urban and Cultural Affairs and competition jury member.
“Kengo Kuma and the Danish partners Cornelius+Vöge and MASU Planning have created the perfect setting for the future presentation of Hans Christian Andersen where we need a keener focus on his enchanting universe than on his personal life,” Jegind said in a statement.
Securing funds for the project is currently underway, and more updates are expected to be announced later this year. If all goes swimmingly, the new museum will open in 2020.
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