For many years, attention was focused on the adjacent UNESCO World Heritage site, where Kronborg Castle – famous for its role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – exerts its magnetic pull on both tourists and local citizens of Helsingør, Denmark. However, in 2010 the city’s old shipbuilding yard was transformed into a modern cultural centre, including concert halls, showrooms, conference facilities, a dockyard museum and a public library.
In this way, the Culture Yard (in Danish, Kulturværftet) is a fine example of adaptive reuse architecture. The contrast between the past and present permeates the cultural centre. For instance, the original concrete skeleton with armoured steel has been reinforced, but left exposed as a reference to the site’s industrial past. Adaptive reuse architecture has thus been the main structural idea in the design process, ensuring the keen observer will discover a chapter of history in every corner of the yard and every peeling of the wall.
Particularly striking, when viewed from the seafront and Kronborg Castle, is the multifaceted façade. Like a fragmented, yet strongly coherent structure, the enormous glass and steel façade challenges the historic site and stares unflinchingly across the strait that separates Denmark and Sweden.
The façade encloses the yard in a distinctive atmosphere, as the dazzling and dramatic play of lines generates a sense of spaciousness. Although the façade is made of hundreds of lines and triangles it appears as one big volume, generating a sense of place and time. The volume also takes the environment into account, as the façade not only functions as an aesthetic architectural feature, but also as a climate shield, reducing the energy demand for cooling and heating of the building.
“The crystalline facade of glass and sheets brilliantly expresses a distinctive, modern identity which reflects and challenges the historic harbour area.”Chairman of the jury / Tyndpladegruppens Arkitekturpris