Contrasts of light and dark that bring science to life
Experimentarium is Denmark’s premier science attraction, aimed at bringing science to life for young people of all ages. It plays a vital role as an informal learning space and as a supplement to schools and upper-secondary education. It is also home to a conference centre and administrative offices. The major redevelopment of the Experimentarium site has seen the exhibition area doubled, with 16 interactive exhibitions.
The challenge: Making an introvert building extrovert
When renowned Danish architects CEBRA set to work re-imagining the Experimentarium building, one of the main challenges was to carry out a radical transformation of the building, from its former dark, introverted feel, into a brighter, altogether more extrovert location. However, many of the exhibition spaces within Experimentarium require darkness to be effective, so the question was how to combine light and darkness in a way that would give coherence to the building, while energizing visitors and helping them to navigate the exhibition space. At the same time, many of the new Experimentarium’s administrative offices face inwards into one of the museum’s atriums, so daylight was at a premium in this space. The construction deadline was tight, with a fixed date for opening this landmark project to an eager public.
The solution: Atriums, staircases, daylight and fresh air
The new building makes use of stacked, counter-balanced box structures that provide a modern, architectural contrast to the traditional red brickwork of the old building, which is still visible at the lower level of the façade. Meanwhile, two immense atriums were constructed.
Visitors to the new Experimentarium emerge from the entrance into the first atrium, housing the museum’s immense, copper-clad spiral staircase. The staircase is the building’s signature feature. It weighs 160 tonnes and is inspired by the double-helix structure of DNA. Meanwhile, at the rear of the building there is a second atrium with another feature staircase, this time inspired by mathematics. In order to highlight these unique architectural features, CEBRA and Experimentarium chose to fit a glass roof in each atrium using VELUX Modular Skylights. These bright, daylit spaces contrast with the dark “black boxes” used for some of the exhibitions, and help orient visitors as they move around the building. The atriums also serve as axes for navigation around the building while providing abundant natural daylight for inward-facing offices.