The House of Fairytales
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN MUSEUM
 LocationOdense, Denmark
 TypeCompetition entry 
 Year2013 
 StatusCompleted. Unawarded
 SPOPeopleLara Lesmes & Fredrik Hellberg

A cultural building in the center of a city has to be more than just a building. It has to be a meeting place, an icon, an inspiration. The new Museum and cultural center dedicated to the work of author Hans Christian Andersen, House of Fairytales is a park, a playground, a garden, a library, a performance stage, a museum, a place to relax, to eat, to read, to learn and most of all, to experience and be a part of the wonders and brilliance of Andersen’s stories. 

Situated in the historical center of the city of Odense The House of Fairytales will be not only the cultural center of the island of Fyn, but a major cultural destination for Europe and the world. Andersen was only one man, but his stories have entertained, inspired and encouraged hundreds of millions of people. The House of Fairytales is only one building, but it will bring together people from all over to world.    

The new House of Fairytales gathers a wide array of programs and activities connected over three floors. The new underground parking and underground passage crossing the site from north to south connects to the first of six courtyards that give light to the underground spaces. The slender columns gives an open and inviting view towards the exhibition spaces and gardens in other courtyards. From the first courtyard the visitors can either access directly to the main reception which will lead them to the museum and Cultural Center for Children or walk directly to adjacent courtyard which features a small restaurant open to the sky. From the main reception which also houses the museum shop the visitors can also take the escalator straight to the top floor passing the ground level where the library, reading spaces, meeting rooms and offices can be found featuring stunning views of the garden and courtyards. 

Arriving on ground the visitors will either arrive with the new tram which stops directly below the building, by bicycle or on foot. Visitors can also park their car in the underground parking area. The building is broken up in many volumes which makes it appear more as a village rather than a single structure. The upper level connects to the garden on thin steel columns which allows for large uninterrupted green areas with the occasional opening in the ground from which trees grow from the lower level gardens in the courtyards. Visitors and residents of Odense can freely walk on and under the museum on continues grass to reach the other side. For an central cultural building to allow and invite for short cuts is important as it creates a continuous use and interaction also by residents who might not visit more than a few times a year for concerts or other events.   

There are four entrances on the ground floor (see axonometric site plan). These are separated into the four corners of the site. Two of them connect with the underground (entrances marked as 2 and 3) and the other two connect with the upper level (1 and 4). The entrance closest to the tram station (entrance 1) features a coffee shop and connects to the lower level through a grand staircase where the visitors will find the main reception and museum shop.  In the staircase itself, there are platforms that  conform the coffee shop volume, a vertical space that can also be used for open temporary exhibitions or other events. At the southeast corner of the site there is a spacious opening with a comfortable ramp which allows for large groups entering the Cultural Center for Children and the auditorium directly below (entrance 3). From there visitors will easily access the museum, library and green courtyards. 

In the north east corner, which features the single most important part of the entire project, Hans Christian Andersen birthplace, visitors can either walk directly to the gardens beyond or enter into the museum. The two modern buildings on either side of Andersen’s house have been removed so that an opening directly into the gardens is possible on the east side of the small house and a new entrance set back from the street on the west side of the house. The house will remain accessible only from within the museum for security purposes and the administrative offices have been relocated to the new upper level. The tall and proud Memorial Hall stands its ground and is now the main connection to Andersen’s house from the museum. One of the Hall’s sides is now meeting the ground with a bed of flowers surrounding it. Visitors that enter the museum through this north entrance will continue to the library and reading spaces on the upper level or to the main exhibition spaces through a staircase leading them down to the underground level, flooded with the south light from the adjacent courtyard. All vertical circulation also features handicap access.
The building can also be accessed directly from the underground floor, creating a seamless connection with parking space in the new urban plan of Odense (entrance 2). From the parking one would get a view of the courtyard that gives access to the reception/coffee shop volume. Once in the courtyard, the upper levels of the building, together with the garden, the tram and the casual activities on the streets are revealed. Entering the reception/coffee shop volume one can access the museum, or take the escalator or elevator directly from the underground floor to the reading spaces and library. These spaces can also be accessed from a staircase that connects the garden with the upper floor (entrance 4), through the variations on the topography (see detail in axonometric section). 
Danish brick (228x108x54mm) is the main construction material for the walls of the overground volumes. Different versions of it are used to create different patterns on the exterior walls of the upper floor. By combining regular bricks and glass bricks, the illusion of the building blending into the sky can be, at times, created, only with the suitable sunlight conditions. Other geometric patterns will also appear depending on the sun angle, as a consequence of combining regular and glazed bricks. 

Once descended to the lower levels a vast and curious landscape unfolds. The gardens in the courtyards are separated from the interior spaces with glass walls, blurring the boundary between inside and outside. The colonnade and arcades created by the slender columns, arches and vaults creates a rich and intricate space full of discovery. Deep views are possible from the north of the underground spaces looking south inviting to exploration. 
As the entire underground floor of the House of Fairytales connects to the underground parking, direct access of large objects and installations is possible through the north west loading bay. The rails embedded in the floor of the open plan makes it possible for temporary exhibitions and events to to occur anywhere on the underground floor. Andersen’s tales are timeless because they address the deepest and most fundamental aspects of the human condition. Many of his stories have been adapted and sometimes radically altered and shown in many different mediums, but still carries the same strength and clarity. The New House of Fairytales allows for just that, perpetual adaptation and interpretations of the 168 stories of The House of Fairytales.             

168 is the number of columns in the open garden of the museum. Each of the columns in the garden will feature a story through the ornaments on the capital (see capital details), which consist of a the 3D printed stone piece that connects the steel profiles to the brick arches that support the building. Thus, the building stands on this stories, and not only keeps the but spreads them, now in a new format: Readable Architecture.