House of Fairytales


The project refers to the historical urban arrangement of Odense. Among the historical development within a cluster of streets in the city center, the birth house of Hans Christian Andersen is preserved. This modest building is the key part of writer’s Museum. Before the building of the expressway the park located behind Andersen’s home had been a walled garden. The access to it was encumbered with a tight development of the row around it which created the atmosphere of intimacy and secrecy. Due to the planned reconstruction of the city center the Garden can be reverted to its original size. The removal of the existing buildings of the Museum allows full exploitation of the area, setting out new vantage points of Memorial Hall dominant, and the establishment of new functional connections between the Museum, the garden, and the city.

The garden is designed to be a wild landscape garden. Its informal style evokes meadows and gardens from Andersen’s works that are inhabited by small animals. Drawing the line between nature and the urban tissue emphasizes the intimacy of the place. It enables the visitor to leave Odense to a magical world of a fairy tale. Vegetation fills the whole park tightly. Wild, indigenous species grow the terrain creating magical corners and hidden spots. A medley of different plants keeps the garden lively from early spring to late autumn. Stripes of cut grass serve as paths. On the eastern end of the area is the lake that makes home to birds, ducks, and doves. The part of its bottom forms a skylight that lets the light into the part of museum located below. It also allows to view the Memorial Hall through water surface. In the center of the garden there is the Nest. This is the location of the Culture Center for Children. Due to the close connection of the building to its surroundings, it is possible to conduct classes in both these spaces. Children dressed up like fable characters can enter the park and continue to play outside becoming also the „part of exposition”.

The Museum influences the city in a variety of ways. Its construction allows multiple insights, at the same time preserving the intimate atmosphere of the events inside. Trams that slowly pass through the garden become moving vantage points. Passengers can view what is happening in the area. The performances viewed from there serve as an information desk for the citizens, attracting them to the Museum, too. Cyclists passing through the route also have the opportunity to participate in the play. By wheeling the bicycle through the center of the Nest they become the audience of the scene, looking how the way decoration and the calendar of temporary exhibitions change. Pedestrians, in turn, can take part in the happenings arranged outside, or in the open performances in the Aula located in the Nest. Gradually lead far inside, through the garden and the ticketed entrance, they enter the exposition rooms.

The demolition of the existing development of the museum has enabled a new approach to the arrangement of its space. The underground location, possible due to the readjustment of the whole quarter of the center, caused the lowering of the majority of the exposition to level -1. What has remained on the surface are the most important buildings of the Museum, and the rest of the area has constituted the park. Firstly, the tourists are introduced to the historical look of the city by passing through the narrow streets of the old Odense. The entrance for visitors is situated in the buildings adjoining Andersen’s birth house. There
are located the entrance hall, restrooms, a cloak-room, a small temporary exhibition, a store, and a back-room. The first stop in the historical tour are the interiors of the Writer’s birth house. The visitors can become acquainted with the reality in which he spent his childhood. Next, they descent to the lower level via the newly built stairway. The double curved stairs that have been composed into the Memorial Hall room. The stairs are the symbol of the change from a boy who Andersen was before leaving the town to become the Writer and Creator. The light penetrating the roof of the building to reach its bottom is one of two light spots that illume the museum. This is the symbol of Adersen’s childhood that makes a connection with childhood memories of all visitors. The main exposition is situated about 6,5 meters below the zero-point level. Entering the dark space refers to the difficult period in Andersen’s life in Copenhagen. The closest the visitors get to the central point which is the Nest, the brighter the exposition becomes. In between the exhibitions devoted to the subsequent travels and the history of the Writer’s life there are suspended boxes present. These give off a bright and colorful glimmer. They are like lanterns in shade,
standing out against the rest of the exposition and lit by special lights cutting out colorful shafts. In the boxes, there are references to the writings, fables, paper cut-outs, and drawings created at the time. Presented as illustrations, films, multimedia, and intriguing curiosities, they enrich the exposition and introduce Andersen’s work more thoroughly. These are located on different levels so that the part of them designed especially for children cannot be reached by adult viewers, and vice versa. They can also connect to the outside world: for example, the box located below the lake overlooking the park is devoted to „Little Mermaid”. This amplifies the sense of intermingling reality, history, and a fairy tale. Chronology of the exposition is directed toward the Nest where the brightest spot represents Danish Golden Age, the magnificence of which Hans Christian Andersen also helped build. The Nest is the center of the Museum, it is a magical world of tales. From below it illuminates the whole exposition room letting the daylight inside. It symbolizes the childhood-related affirmation of Andersen’s work which, although fully comprehensible only to adults, has brought about his fame. The light goes through special lay-lights embedded in the bottom of the niched auditorium. In this way two shafts of daylight let into the room make a connection between each other. Additionally, the system
allows penetration of voices of the stories read in the place, and its amplification on different scale over the whole complex, as well as over the Garden. The visitors can also view the constantly rearranged Experience space which is the place for children to play. It is a world experienced through all senses, where you can feel like in a fable. This is where the visitors can return and, on their way back to the starting-point, see the exposition devoted to the Writer’s legacy. There is also a possibility to enter level 0 through the stairway by the two-level emptiness.

The premises of Culture Center for Children are located here. It includes the information desk, a cloak-room, restrooms, a cafe, the Workshop, designed for work with bigger groups, the Magic Wardrobe containing costumes, and the Story Telling Aula with the capacity of about 150 people. The Aula has a sloping profile that allows its gentle integration with the niche situated in the garden, separated from it with a folding glass facade. The scenery of the garden then can become a background for the stories told, and during summer such a composition allows to enlarge the auditorium and enables outdoor performances. The exterior walls of the building are lined with bricks that are dislocated against each other to create soft chiaroscuro. By this, a reference to the local building type is made. However, every shorter side of each brick is covered with a shiny glaze that reflects the surroundings. This effects in the building’s edges disappear lightly into the environment.