Kengo Kuma wins competition to design fairytale-themed Hans Christian Andersen museum expansion

by Kim Megson | 22 Apr 2016

Kengo Kuma has won the first prize in an architecture design competition to create a new fairytale-themed home for the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, Denmark.

A peaceful garden and tall trees will surround cylindrical timber-clad volumes that house 6,000sq m (64,600sq ft) of new floor space, including an underground level.

The complex, which will also include the Tinderbox Cultural Centre for Children, is designed to create empathy, imagination and play while inspiring learning about the author’s famous fables, such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.

The existing museum opened in 1908 inside Andersen’s former home. The large-scale extension has been planned as part of a wider redevelopment of Odense city centre.

Kuma – who will collaborate with Danish firms Cornelius+Vöge Architects, MASU Planning Landscape Architects and Eduard Troelsgård Engineers – overcame competition from prominent international firms Barozzi Veiga, Snøhetta and Bjarke Ingels Group.

“We have found a unique winning project,” said Odense mayor Anker Boye, who chaired the competition jury. “The fact that Kengo Kuma is from Japan only goes to show that sometimes you have to travel abroad to find home.

“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.’”

British group Event Communications will design the museum’s new exhibition concept after winning a separate, earlier competition. In an unusual move, their vision was used to form the basis of Kuma’s proposal.

“It is brilliant to have found such a well-integrated and well-designed project that is both ingenious and magical,” said Jane Jegind, a juror and Odense's alderwoman for urban and cultural affairs. “In planning the project, it was important to us that gardens, building and exhibition design were envisaged as an interconnected whole that clearly captures the spirit of Andersen and brings out the essence of the City of Odense at the same time.”

Funding for the project is expected to be established in 2016. Construction will begin shortly after, and completion is scheduled for 2020, when Kuma will also open his Olympic Stadium for Tokyo.

The architect has had a busy few months. In addition to controversially winning the Tokyo contract, in place of Zaha Hadid Architects, he has unveiled a design for a spiralling cultural centre in Sydney and opened a community complex near the Japanese Alps.

Other leisure projects in various stages of development include Yunfeng Spa Resort in China, a new city library building for Japan’s Morioka City, a Japanese garden in the US city Portland and a jungle-inspired museum in Manila, the Philippines.

Kengo Kuma  Hans Christian Andersen  Odense  Denmark  museum design  architecture 
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Kengo Kuma has won the first prize in an architecture design competition to create a new fairytale-themed home for the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, Denmark. A peaceful garden and tall trees will surround cylindrical timber-clad volumes that house 6,000sq m (64,600sq ft) of new floor space, including an underground level. The complex, which will also include the Tinderbox Cultural Centre for Children, is designed to create empathy, imagination
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Trees and gardens will surround the museum's volumes / Kengo Kuma & Associates
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