Johannes Norlander

house of fairy tales . odense


Johannes Norlander . house of fairy tales

Through its architecture, books and stories, a society renders information about its history, its culture and ambition. Its collective memory is the memory of past events, of buildings or places which all refer back to different eras. This past, can be seen as a complex set of interrelated repertoires, of things already built, designed and written. By studying the built and by relating to past experience, we can learn how new structures can achieve a similar presence. For the built environment to function as an organic whole, it requires credibility between the existing and future additions or transformations.










The House of Fairytales takes its starting point in the specific qualities of the adjacent buildings and the characteristic typology of the historical parts of Odense. The new addition does not only relate to the historical, cultural and architectural heritage of its surroundings, it also sets out to strengthen the identity of the museum and offer a new adventurous space. A space that opens up a narrative across history involving past and present, creating a place for new events and stories to come to life. Typologically the buildings are instantly recognizable, manipulating conventions to create of familiarity through association and can through its distortion and abstraction acquire an artistic consciousness.
The museum will serve as a focal point, where visitors, locals and employees can meet across the fascination of the fabulous life and fairytales of H.C. Andersen. The Museum and adjacent gardens are there to be explored, to learn from and to inspire new stories, built upon the heritage of H.C Andersen and the city of Odense. The House of Fairytales will create a new and coherent whole with the garden as a living imaginative hub, serving as a fluent transition between city and building. The garden is in itself the largest room of the exhibition.
Arriving from the garden, little by little you are presented to fragments of red brick. Low brick walls frame the outdoor gar­dens, creating green pocket spaces with flowerbeds and greenery. The material is consistently used throughout the various additions of the museum. This monotonous use of material gives the museum a clear and recognizable image in the urban landscape and has a natural relation to city context. Moving along, further into the garden you reach the museum. The red bricks cover the courtyard, the walls and the rooftops, creating a ‘unity of effect’ as you walk down the ramp towards the entrance. Once inside the building a continuous roof light illuminates the high, unadorned brick walls.
The museum has a straight forward organization of interconnected rooms, which manifests itself in a series of pitched rooftops and gives the museum a characteristic silhouette. Based on the idea of the classic Danish farm-typology, the long-houses envelope the courtyard, working as a point of reference as you move through the exhibition spaces. The mo­notonous interior space serves as a backdrop to the various exhibitions, without applying the anonymous, detached char­acter of the typical ‘white cube’. Both building-material and the exhibition-objects contribute in defining the space. In the centrum of the museum lies a cafe with a large brick fireplace. The cafe is connected to and accessed via the courtyard and main entrance. This gives the visitors that are not proceeding further into the museum a possibility to enjoy the food and the atmosphere, while still being a viable resting place for those who does. The exhibition spaces are limited to a single storey, allowing the visitor to walk through the exhibition in a continuous flow. Stretching from the entrance and cafe, two wings unfold to each side of the room, H.C. Andersens main exhibition and the Tinderbox. The arrangement of intercon­nected spaces gives the museum an open atmosphere, allowing a flowing visibility between the galleries. The galleries vary in size and layout, and ensures a flexible display of the exhibition. A sequence of large windows create visual connections to the landscape, framing the view of the garden and courtyard.
The museum is linked to H.C. Andersen’s birthplace through series of scattered columns which form a transparent space overlooking the memorial hall. Two pithed brick rooftops with accompanying façades, connects the space to the existing buildings. On each side of H.C.’s birthplace the brick infill-buildings define the street-scape at the same time as it visually connects to the main museum building. Moving inside the exhibition space you can get a glimpse of the street through openings in the existing buildings as well as in the new additions.
Staff areas such as administration, storage and archives are neatly organized on three floors contained in the entrance building. Administration and offices at the first floor and storage and archives in the basement. A lift connects the three levels, allowing service and deliveries to be distributed throughout the building.
The building sets out from the Danish architectural tradition, both through its typological anchorage as well through its materiality and construction techniques. Historically, brick is a common construction material present in most Danish cit­ies. It has a sense of historical permanence and is both a modest and manageable building material. A double brick skin constructions is proposed with an outer and inner skin of self supporting brickwork. The roof is clad with facade brick and the layout of the floor brick varies from gallery to gallery. The use of brick allows the walls to breathe which contributes to a well functioning indoor climate. The advantage of using masonry for gallery spaces is that the humidity of the internal air- crucial for preserving the exhibits- always remains constant. The building envelope is built from a standard brick for­mat 228x108x54, left exposed internally and externally and used consistently throughout, creating a somewhat monolithic space, a woven textile that guides the visitor in the exploration of Hans Christian Andersens fairytales.


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