Spiralling copper stairway stars at Denmark's fun and dramatic Experimentarium

We want to light a spark in children and young people, inspiring them to explore and understand our wonderful world
– Kim Gladstone Herlev

A Danish science museum dedicated to celebrating curiosity has reopened today (26 January), wowing visitors with a 100m (328ft) long twisting copper staircase and walls that are partly built using recycled beer cans.

The Experimentarium opened in the town of Hellerup in 1991, but its original home was largely destroyed in 2015 when initial expansion work had already taken place.

The design brief of architecture studio CEBRA, who won the first architecture competition in 2011, was then adapted, and they rebuilt the centre with double the exhibition space and a more striking appearance.

“The aim of the design is a radical change of Experimentarium’s architectural expression,” said CEBRA founding partner Kolja Nielsen. “From previously being an introvert building, it now appears as an extrovert, engaging and vibrant attraction.”

The building is formed of stacked boxes, using some of the wall structures and foundations from the city’s old Tuborg beer bottling plant. Large expanses of glass have been used to create a visual connection to the scientific universe inside the centre, while the perforated ‘beer can’ aluminium panels clad the lightweight façade – creating a pattern that illustrates how the flow of air and fluid changes when it meets resistance.

In a statement, the architects said the contrast between the existing brickwork and the new elements “emphasises the meeting between old and new, between past and future, and between natural science and engineering.”

The completed structure has a total floor area of 26,850sq m (289,000sq ft), including a 1,850sq m (19,900sq ft) rooftop terrace.

The interior of the building is dominated by an impressive double helix staircase – inspired by the structure of DNA, built from 160 tons of steel and clad with 10 tons of copper – that spirals up through the building and leads visitors into four floors filled with 16 interactive exhibitions. These will be suitable for all ages and explore subjects ranging from the human body to the science of soap bubbles.

“Curiosity is the core element that Experimetarium is made of,” said Kim Gladstone Herlev, managing director of the centre. “We want to light a spark in children and young people, inspiring them to explore and understand our wonderful world. Now, this curiosity has a new, spectacular and flexible framework.”

Other facilities include a large cafe, a picnic-area, a convention centre, workshops and education spaced and the “world’s first” interactive film theatre based on movement sensors.

The latter, developed with the Canadian science center, has a capacity of 20 people for each 13-minute film. Instead of sitting, viewers must keep moving as they “help a young girl fight a mystic dark fog that’s spreading because her family and friends are inactive.”

Herlev revealed he expects the Experimentarium to receive 500,000 visitors in 2017, including international tourists and day visitors from all over Denmark and from Sweden. The attraction has welcomed 8.2 million visitors to date.

The cost of the expansion has been estimated at DKK880m (US$126m, €118.3m, £100.3m), with DKK578m (US$82.8m, €77.7m, £66m) raised from foundations and companies for the acquisition and renovation.

Experimentarium  Denmark  science  architecture  design  CEBRA 
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A Danish science museum dedicated to celebrating curiosity has reopened today (26 January), wowing visitors with a 100m (328ft) long twisting copper staircase and walls that are partly built using recycled beer cans. The Experimentarium opened in the town of Hellerup in 1991, but its original home was largely destroyed in 2015 when initial expansion work had already taken place. The design brief of architecture studio CEBRA, who won the
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The interior of the building is dominated by an impressive double helix staircase – inspired by the structure of DNA / Adam Mørk
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