Danish Marine Museum is built around an old dry dock

BIG Museum
© Luca Santiago Mora /BIG via Designboom

We do go on about the importance of adaptive reuse, but what do you do with an old dry dock that is essentially a hole in the ground? Especially when you are next door to a UNESCO world heritage site,Hamlet's Kronborg Castle, where there are strict rules about maintaining the vistas?

Bjarke Ingels of BIG came up with an unusually restrained idea for such an over-the-top starchitect: He buried the museum, and left the dry dock mainly open, as an entry and circulation element.

The architect tells Designboom:

By wrapping the old dock with the museum program we simultaneously preserve the heritage structure while transforming it to a courtyard bringing daylight and air in to the heart of the submerged museum. Turning the dock inside out resolved a big dilemma: out of respect for hamlet’s castle we needed to remain completely invisible and underground – but to be able to attract visitors we needed a strong public presence. Leaving the dock as an urban abyss provides the museum with an interior façade facing the void and at the same time offers the citizens of Helsingør a new public space sunken 8 m (16 ft.) below the level of the sea.

When one thinks of the work of Bjarke Ingels, it is usually brash and in your face; not like Mies who said "less is more", more like Morris Lapidus who said "Too much is never enough." Uncharacteristically, this work is restrained, respectful of its surroundings and its heritage, a great model of the adaptive reuse of a difficult space.

big under cosntructionLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

When in Copenhagen in August for the INDEX Awards, the museum was supposed to be the venue for an event. Unfortunately it wasn't ready; one of the problems of being below sea level is it got flooded out. Oops.

Lots more images at Designboom

Danish Marine Museum is built around an old dry dock
BIG buries a museum to save historic elements of industrial heritage

Related Content on Treehugger.com