Fairy Tale Design

Kengo Kuma wins competition for Hans Christian Andersen museum design

Architecture International
(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)
(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

Japanse architect Kengo Kuma has been awarded commission to design the expansion for the Hans Christian Anderson museum in Odense, Denmark. Fending off compeition from Barozzi Veiga and Snøhetta, and Denmark’s own Bjarke Ingels Group, all of whom remained until the contests latter stages.

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

The project aims to create a new home for the author behind childhood classics The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Little Mermaid. In order to achieve this, the museum’s expansion will carry a fairytale theme, captured in Kuma’s plan for the museum that features a large garden filled with tall trees that are encompassed by circular timber structures.



(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

Covering 64,600 square feet, these volumes will house new multipurpose spaces as well as an underground level. A “Tinderbox Cultural Centre for Children” also part of the scheme, will aim to instill a sense of empathy and imagination in visitors, echoing the themes in Christian Anderson’s tales while also teaching the children of his work.

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

Odense’s mayor Anker Boye, who was also the jury chairman for the competition said: “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”.”

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

Kuma’s scheme revolves partly around what the British exhibition design firm Event Communications submitted as a winning proposal earlier in the year. Jane Jegind, Odense’s Alderwoman for Urban and Cultural Affairs said that this was an “unusual” procedure, but was one of Kuma’s project’s strengths.



(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

“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, she said.

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma and Associates)

The project’s funds look set to be finalized by the end of this year, with ground breaking shortly after. Kuma himself will then open both the Olympic stadium in Tokyo and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense when the two projects are due to be complete in 2020.

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