Designing museum extensions – it is almost a discipline of its own in the world of architecture. And every extension is designed to adapt or at least co-exist with the lines and shapes of existing buildings surrounding it. This is a task that leads to exciting solutions so we want to share three very different examples of Danish-designed museum extensions.
We start off in Ebeltoft, a town on the eastern coastline of the Danish peninsula Jutland. Here sits Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, which exhibits glass art from all over the world. With a collection of 1500 different works from 700 artists, the need for space is great, so in 2006 the museum opened a new extension building designed by Danish architects 3XN.
Twice as high, the new extension welcomes guests with a total of 970 square-metres of varied visual impressions. The existing museum is set in a former Customs and Excise House, and with the extension creates an L-shape when viewed from above. The north face of the building is made up of whitewashed brickwork combined with vertical glass panels. Facing the museum garden, the south face of the extension is made almost entirely of glass, giving a simple and light expression indoors.
The main entrance is positioned in the extension. From here, you can go to the existing museum via ground level or walk seamlessly out into the garden before continuing to the glass hut, which serves as an active exhibition as well as working space for invited artists.
Next up is The Natural History Museum in London. In 2010, the world-leading museum opened a new extension shaped like a huge eight-storey concrete cocoon surrounded by a glass atrium. The Darwin Centre is housed inside the extension, which was designed by Danish C.F. Møller Architects, and contains both an exhibition area as well as a research centre.
In this way, visitors can observe research activities without interrupting the scientific process and experience the whole centre as an interactive learning space. One thing they cannot experience fully is the size of the concrete cocoon, which cannot be seen in its entirety from any position. This emphasises the scale and gives visitors a tangible understanding of what is inside – millions of specimens, research facilities and inspirational public spaces.
With a total of 16,000 square-metres of floor space, the Darwin Centre accommodates up to 220 staff and science visitors. The cocoon, Europe’s largest curved structure made of sprayed concrete, stands 60 metres long, 12 metres wide and 30 cm thick – a perfect place to store collections at a stable 17°C and 45 per cent relative humidity.
We conclude with a third example of Danish-designed museum extensions. The extension of Sorø Art Museum in Denmark, designed by architectural firm Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, is a modern version of a traditional brick building attached to the rear of the original museum building from 1834.
The whole facade and roof is covered with hundreds of specially designed brick shells mounted in a slightly slanted position. In this way, the building pays homage to the prevalent brick housing in the town of Sorø, where the museum is located.
The new building consists of 1420 square-metres of floor space, a portion of which is below ground level. The lower level stores magazines and a new exhibition hall that pushes through the terrain and lets light shine in from lanterns in the museum courtyard. All in all, the simple mode of expression, with very few windows, is an aesthetic choice, but it is also a way to provide a stable and energy-effective thermal environment inside the house.