Designed from the inside out
H.C. Andersen’s House opened this week in a ceremony led by HM Queen Margrethe II. The new museum promises to reignite the city of Odense's cultural quarter. It offers a fresh take on Hans Christian Andersen - moving away from his personal life and delving into his literary work. It is a fairytale wonderland full of visual trickery and magical illusions that invite moments of empathy, imagination and play as visitors wind through the author's famous fables.
H.C. Andersen’s House has been a real labour of love in our studio since 2016 when we designed the exhibition's narrative concept. Our concept drove the architectural competition, which was awarded to Kengo Kuma. Designed from the inside out, the resulting gardens, building and exhibition weave together with a wonderful sense of fluidity. Our lead designer on the project, Phaedra Corrigan, explained that the partnership with Kengo Kuma meant that the museum 'has a very strong message from the inside out... the stories bleed through the exhibition into the building and the whole experience tells a story, [it's] something that hasn't been done before... it's a real opportunity to push the boundaries of museum design.'
Press reviews have already begun to shower praise on the museum with the Frankfurter Allgemeine writing that 'one of the most striking features of the content in Andersen's fairy tales is to give inanimate objects a psyche, a voice and a story... a suitcase, boots, a fan [are heard arguing] with each other as soon as the visitor is seen comes close to them... the experience is particularly beautiful where the installations react to the architecture and thus to the environment [for example, when] the basement opens horizontally into a garden that is at the same height, like a sunken garden.' While the Politiken described the new museum as 'a magical box that holds more adventures than you have previously been able to experience.'
The Telegraph described the experience as 'a paen to fairy tales', writing that 'the museum’s charm is in its bewitching contradictions: organic, sedum-topped pavilions alongside architectural hedges; the playful feel of tumbling down the rabbit hole next to the urban rationale of City Hall; the flip-flop between the real and imaginary, the natural and man-made, the light and darkness. It works brilliantly.'
Jane Jegind, Odense’s alderwoman for urban and cultural affairs, described the new museum 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... [it] is both ingenious and magical.'