SITE: Mons Klint, Denmark
SCOPE: Visitor Center, Museum, Cafe
DATE: 2002 / TEAM :IA, Peterson Ververs
A vast visitor center and exhibition building, this museum is the mise-en-scene of the geological history and tectonic phenomena that created the island of Mons Klint off the shores of Denmark eons ago. The building is itself a landscape – or rather a threshold, inserted into the geologic layers of the fossil rich chalk-like earth. Like a giant rectangular prism, it exposes time as a path, emerging from the ground to narrate the primordial story of this dramatic landscape. The structure is analogous to the land form of the island itself, as it peels up its organic surface blurring the boundary between inside and out, architecture and landscape.
The landscape is secretive and subtle . Our arrival through shadowy forest heightens our anticipation of the new Geocenter. The forest opens to the light and an expansive green with a small pond. Where one might expect to see a building one normally associates with “visitors’ center” or “museum”, we experience a wide green fiord punctuated by a row of crystalline prisms in the grass, rising out of the earth.
By forming the structure as a “sloping bridge”, which emerges from the earth and floats gently over the plateau numerous functional and experiential advantages are achieved. The structure serves as a shield between the parking surface and the natural attraction of the descent to the drama of the chalk cliffs. By orienting the Geocenter perpendicular to the ridge line, the structure forms the spatial and psychological threshold to the cliffs – where the terrain falls away toward the sea.
We envision a Geocenter, which is both powerful in its expression while having a gentle relationship to the landscape – a structure which blurs the boundary between inside and out, architecture and landscape. Our Geocenter emerges from the Danish underground as a messenger from primordial time revealing the chalk’s deepest secrets.