The Tirpitz museum in Blåvand (opened in July 2017) is labelled as Denmark’s invisible museum, hidden under the dunes next to an existing Nazi bunker. Conceived by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) architectural firm, Tirpitz is a cultural center featuring four galleries: the amber museum, the bunker museum, museum of local history and a temporary exhibition gallery. The two story construction spaciously spans across 27,000 square feet — enough to hold a cafe, creating a space for both leisure and the absorption of cultural knowledge.

“It has been our goal to create a humble, world-class attraction surprising its visitors with new perspectives on the majestic landscape”

— Varde Museum director Claus Kjeld Jensen.

Photograph courtesy of Dezeen

Photograph courtesy of Mike Blink

From an aerial point of view, the dunes seem as if they were sliced — four linear passageways merging from opposing sides towards a small square center, revealing light from within the museum at night. These channels lead the public to doorways entering the museum. The variations in the height and geometric shape of buildings, create clean cut shapes from skylight. Artificial light shone from the bunker’s interior, bringing dynamism to the museum’s hermetic state. The galleries can either be accessed independently, or through the central open courtyard, as visitors tour the museum in a circular loop.

Photograph courtesy of Dezeen

The three year construction of the bunker museum was actually a continuation of work conducted on a small museum before 1944, which was halted by WWII before construction could complete. BIG altered the plan and integrated a modern take on its construction, by establishing monumental glass walls that rise from the ground to the top of the building. The rest of the walls for each gallery were formed from cast in-situ concrete which provides the museum a solid yet seamless touch. It is this skilful integration of nature with culture that BIG wanted to achieve.

Photograph courtesy of Rasmus Hjortshøj

Photograph courtesy of Rasmus Hjortshøj

Photograph courtesy of Mike Blink

Furthermore, Tirpitz isn’t just an architecturally innovative museum that camouflages with the earth though — it has a notable cultural innuendo. Apart from the Tirpitz itself, the static German WWII bunker is also a critical part of the public’s cultural experience. Fully utilizing the monolithic object instead of demolishing it, BIG offers an architectural dialogue, and antithesis between the two stylistically different buildings. While the new bunker museum is “invisibly” embedded into the ground, the old bunker protrudes from the surface and acts more like a blockage to nature. They juxtapose the old and new, the natural and artificial, the subtle and blatant, the dynamic and monolithic.

Photograph courtesy of Rasmus Hjortshøj

Photograph courtesy of Rasmus Hjortshøj

Photograph courtesy of Mike Blink

“The bunker remains the only landmark of a not-so-distant dark heritage that, upon close inspection, marks the entrance of a new cultural meeting place.”

— BIG Founder Bjarke Ingels.

Denmark’s “invisible” museum really offers a unique experience that is both dramatic yet hidden under the depth of earth. It embodies a modern renovation of an obsolete site, and way of thinking.

Many thanks to the referenced photographers for media sources.

“References”

Mairs (2017), BIG creates subterranean museum by carving channels into dune by Nazi bunker [Online] Available at https://www.dezeen.com/2017/07/14/big-carves-linear-pattern-dunegerman-bunker-denmark/ [Accessed 19/07/17]

Wang (2017), BIG hides an “invisible museum” beneath Denmark’s sand dunes [Online] Available at http://inhabitat.com/big-hides-an-invisible-museum-beneath-denmarks-sand-dunes/ [Accessed 19/07/17]

Arikoglu (2017), Denmark’s “Invisible” Tirpitz Museum is hidden in a WWII-era bunker [Online] Available at http://www.cntraveler.com/story/denmarks-invisible-tirpitz-museum-is-hidden-in-a-wwii-era-bunker [Accessed 19/07/17]

DesignBoom (2017), BIG expands WWII bunker to form TIRPITz, a “hidden” museum sunken into the danish coast [Online] Available at http://www.designboom.com/architecture/big-tirpitz-bjarke-ingels-museum-blavand-denmark-07-13-2017/ [Accessed 19/07/17]

Bianchini (2017), Bjarke Ingels Group // Tirpitz bunker museum – Blåvand, Denmark [Online] Available at https://www.inexhibit.com/case-studies/big-bjarke-ingels-group-tirpitz-museum-denmark/ [Accessed 19/07/17]