Sunday, January 9, 2011

Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (HEART) : By Steven Holl Architects

Herning, Denmark
Steven Holl Architects
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--The Holl-designed museum (foreground) adds a sculptural twist to Birk Centerpark, the home of a former shirt factory, outside Herning. The circular form of the factory transformed in 1975 into the Herning Art Museum is repeated in the planting behind the rectilinear design school. A prototype house by Jørn Utzon, framed by an arcing lawn, sits in front of the parking area.

Art Outpost: Steven Holl Architects allows art to have autonomy within a sculptural enclosure in Denmark’s Herning Museum of Contemporary Art.
In museum circles, curators and artists are well known for kvetching about architects who compete with the art on view by foisting major design statements onto willing clients. Small wonder that when Steven Holl entered an invited competition in 2005 for the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in central Denmark, he took seriously the admonition from Holger Reenberg, the director of the museum: “Do everything you want as long as it doesn’t compromise the art.”
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--The café and other public spaces overlook reflecting pools that filter rainwater. Exterior walls are white reinforced concrete, wrinkled by a fabric impression. Latticelike steel trusses form the structure of the convex roof elements.
The museum, known by its coy (in English) acronym HEART, occupies 10.4 acres of Birk Centerpark, a singular art museum, sculpture park, design school, and office building enclave that was once the home of a shirt factory.
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--A curved soffit forms the understated entrance to the museum. The lobby, café, auditorium, and other related spaces fill out the peripheral areas where walls are curved, while galleries occupy the orthogonally planned volumes.
Holl’s abstractly conceived, 60,278-square-foot structure leaves alone the art galleries totaling 15,812 square feet. Two discrete precast-concrete volumes form the inner core of the museum, one for permanent exhibitions, the other for temporary ones, and movable walls of lightweight construction allow art to be displayed in orthogonally arranged spaces. The architectural whammy occurs above the hang, so to speak. Here the roof fills out the gestalt, with five white tubular shells bending and twisting to create convex ceilings that billow over the galleries and perimeter areas containing the lobby, bookshop, offices, café, library, and an auditorium for concerts. On the exterior, convex and concave walls echo in the elevation the curves overhead. Although the exterior white walls, made of poured-in-place reinforced concrete, seem rather blank from afar, up close you find the surface rutted with creases. To achieve this thickly textured effect, the architects had trucks drive over vinyl mesh tarp, then staple-gunned the wrinkled material to plywood forms for the pour. When the concrete dried and the tarp was yanked off, “you had wrinkles with no repetition,” says Holl. 
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--On the south elevation, an opening in the crinkly textured concrete wall (reflecting the colors of dusk) allows a glimpse of the café.
Much has been said about how Holl’s convex roof elements look like shirt sleeves, sliced and folded, and how the wrinkled exterior concrete resembles shirt fabric — both quite apropos of the products of the manufacturer who founded the original Herning Art Museum on the site. Aage Damgaard, owner of the Angli shirt factory, established in 1939, was also an art collector who liked to invite artists, including the Italian conceptual artist Piero Manzoni (1933—63), to take up residence at his factories. In the mid-1960s, Damgaard set up a factory in Birk on the outskirts of Herning, and his collection of Manzoni’s works formed the core of the museum that opened in the factory building in 1975 when production moved elsewhere. Backing up the Angli factory, designed in the shape of a round collar by C.F. Møller in 1965, are landscaped parks by Carl Theodor Sørensen that repeat its circular forms as a series of grand and intimate outdoor rooms. The complex soon attracted a design school (TEKO, as it is called), now housed in a series of rectilinear structures built between 1998 and 2004, plus a smaller museum, large-scale sculptures, a carpet factory, and office buildings. A prototype house designed by Jørn Utzon in 1970 and distinguished by large, scupper-shaped roofs, sits near Holl’s museum — one more element of this idiosyncratic physical context.
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--The curved ceilings of the permanent galleries show how daylight filters between the tubular roof sections to bathe the artworks in an eerie glow (supplemented by conventional spotlighting). The museum owns 37 works by Piero Manzoni, who spent time at the Angli Herning factory in the early 1960s.
In spite of the visual resemblance of the roof to shirt sleeves, Holl shrugs off the catchy provenance.
He argues the roof’s design really derives from his desire for daylight to enter the interstices of spaces between the tubular arms, then bounce off the ceilings’ white plastered curves to cast a soft, ethereal glow for the artworks displayed below. The openings take the form of clerestories composed of two layers of sandblasted channel glass with translucent insulation sandwiched between—somewhat like the glazing Holl used in the Bloch Building of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri [record, July 2007, page 94]. A two-way-spanning steel-truss structure supports the curved forms, which are covered with a white roofing membrane on top, with steel hangers connecting the curved to the flat portions of the roof. “We worked closely with the structural engineer [Niras] to create large-span galleries where we could balance curved roof sections that sit on precast-concrete elements,” says Noah Yaffe, Holl’s associate in charge. The team designed the outdoor landscape to repeat in reverse the curved shapes of the roof: Rounded berms frame reflecting pools that filter the rainwater. Since the budget was tight ($20 million), Holl donated $20,000 of his fee so that a geothermal system could be installed for slab cooling (heating is provided by the district). In addition to inserting heating and cooling tubes in the concrete floors, the architects achieved additional energy savings by using a displacement ventilation system.
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--The curved ceilings of the permanent galleries show how daylight filters between the tubular roof sections to bathe the artworks in an eerie glow (supplemented by conventional spotlighting). The museum owns 37 works by Piero Manzoni, who spent time at the Angli Herning factory in the early 1960s.
The imaginative intersection of art, light, and architecture offers a fittingly dramatic setting for the exhibitions, and not surprisingly, the museum recently received one of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ International Architecture awards for 2010. But nothing is perfect — or at least certain aspects need to be addressed in such an innovative project. For example, the clerestories often have been blacked out with shades since the opening last fall, owing to curatorial concern about daylight levels for the paintings. Visitors (including this observer) have found the entrance not legible enough as a portal to the museum, and Reenberg notes it is hard to tell if the museum is open, since no parking is permitted in front. While the interior circulation through the galleries is clear, and the outdoor piazza welcoming, visitors may not be as easily drawn to walk around the entire exterior of the building, partly because concave walls don’t inflect one’s steps around a corner. (Admittedly, cold weather often dampens such a desire.) Essentially, the integration of the building and land is a visual one best seen from the air, not a kinesthetic one experienced on foot. Here, the interaction of the pedestrian with the art inside the museum takes precedence. 
Photo © Courtesy of Iwan Baan--One of the museum's rectilinear volumes is devoted to temporary exhibitions, as seen in the inaugural exhibition devoted to the work of Jannis Kounellis. The other volume is for permanent exhibitions, and both seek to provide noncompetitive backdrops for the display of art. Portals, 16 inches deep and outlined in blackened steel, echo the charcoal tint of the integrally painted concrete floors.

site/main level floor plan--drawing Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

sections--drawing Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

The People

Steven Holl Architects
450 West 31st street, 11th floor
(212) 629-7262
(212) 629-7312
Steven Holl – design architect
Noah Yaffe – associate in charge
Chris McVoy – project advisor
Associate architect:
Kjaer and Richter – local architect

Niras – mechanical,structural
Transsolar – mechanical

Schønherr Landskab
General contractor: 
C.C. Contractor, Herning

Iwan Baan
Susan Wides

The Products

Structural system:
Concrete & Concrete floors:
EMR Murer & entreprenør A/S, Nørre Snede
Supply concrete:
IBF, Ikast 
Concrete texture:
Ivar Haahr A/S, Gesten
Concrete seal:
Sylan A/S
Precast Concrete:
MBE A/S, Herning
MBE A/S, Herning
Langkjaer Stalbyg A/S
Masonry, Drains:
Entreprenørfirmaet Sejer Pedersen A/S
Glass facades:
A.S. Facader A/S
Structural glazing, system:
Structural glazing, glass:
Isolar Glas GmbH
Channel glass:
Glasfabrik Lamberts GmbH  

Skantag A/S
Steel roof:
Protan A/S 

Steel doors:
Ingv. Michelsen, Århus
Sound doors:
Glass Sliding doors:
Tormax, Give
Unitar New Store Europe, Herning
Martela A/S

FH Elevator, Horsens
Guldmann, Århus
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