Danish National Maritime Museum by BIG Architects

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For 100 years, the town of Helsingør was one of the greatest shipyards of the Danish ship building nation. It covered the whole area between the town to the historic Kronborg Castle. After the industrial era ended, the town redefined itself with an ambitious project: Cultural harbor Kronborg.

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Within this revitalization, sits the Danish National Maritime Museum designed by BIG Architects. The building carves itself into the 60 year old dock walls to create a place that is unique in history and spatial context.

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Like a subterranean museum in a dry dock, the galleries are placed below ground and are arranged in a continuous loop around the walls – making the dock the centerpiece of the exhibition. An open, outdoor area where visitors experience the scale of ship building.

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A series of three double-level bridges span the dry dock, serving both as an urban connection, as well as providing visitors with short-cuts to different sections of the museum. The harbor bridge closes off the dock while serving as harbor promenade; the museum’s auditorium serves as a bridge connecting the adjacent Culture Yard with the Kronborg Castle; and the sloping zig-zag bridge navigates visitors to the main entrance.

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All floors connect exhibition spaces with the auditorium, classroom, offices, café and the dock floor within the museum which slopes gently creating exciting and sculptural spaces.

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This bridge unites the old and new as the visitors descend into the museum space overlooking the majestic surroundings above and below ground. The long and noble history of the Danish Maritime unfolds in a continuous motion within and around the dock, 7 meters (23 ft.) below the ground.

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Photos by Rasmus Hjortshoj and Luca Santiago Mora
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