© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

Maritime Design: 10 Museums Exploring the Architecture of the Sea

Drawing new relationships between cities and maritime history, the museums reveal the past while celebrating the architecture of the sea.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Architecture holds innate connections to the sea. Waterways and oceans have connected civilizations throughout history, allowing empires and economies to expand and prosper. Inevitability, industry and trade has evolved as cities emerged alongside shipyards and harbors. As such, the relationship between people and waterfronts transformed, leaving behind forgotten shorelines and remnants of a bygone trade. Now, as cities begin to lose connections to their maritime heritage, how can architecture rekindle an understanding of urban morphology that is rooted in the sea?

The following collection draws together 10 maritime museums from the Architizer database, architecture built around discovery and heritage. Exploring the relationship between people and place, the museums are located near waterfronts and cultural centers across the world. Showcasing a diverse range of scales and programs, the projects are designed around historic collections and impressive public spaces. Drawing new relationships between cities and maritime history, the museums reveal the past while celebrating the architecture of the sea.

© BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

© BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

© BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

© BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

Danish National Maritime Museum by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, Helsingør, Denmark

BIG’s design for the Danish National Maritime Museum simultaneously respects the context of Kronborg Castle while exploring local heritage in-situ. Museum galleries were placed below ground within cavernous dry dock walls, while a series of three bridges provide programmatic spaces and urban connections across the site.

© WilkinsonEyre

© WilkinsonEyre

© WilkinsonEyre

© WilkinsonEyre

© WilkinsonEyre

© WilkinsonEyre

Mary Rose Museum by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Wilkinson Eyre’s museum was built around a famous uncovered Tudor ship, the Mary Rose, within Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Designed from the inside out, the project centers on the historic ship’s hull and its artifacts. Encasing both the ship and the largest collection of Tudor artifacts in the world, the museum was designed with a pure elliptical form derived from toroidal geometry.

© Architekturfotograf Rasmus Norlander

© Architekturfotograf Rasmus Norlander

© Adam Mørk

© Adam Mørk

© Architekturfotograf Rasmus Norlander

© Architekturfotograf Rasmus Norlander

Porsgrunn Maritime Museumby COBE, Porsgrunn, Norway

Echoing the surrounding roofscape along the local dockyard, this maritime museum charts the expansion of Porgrunn’s shipping industry. The building was formed with an aluminum skin that catches reflections form the harbor.

© TODD Architects

© TODD Architects

© TODD Architects

© TODD Architects

© TODD Architects

© TODD Architects

Titanic Belfast by Todd Architects, Belfast, United Kingdom

Exploring the history of the Titanic and its fateful journey, this museum in Belfast is located on the site where the famous ship was designed and built. As a landmark design with a distinctive form, the project houses temporary exhibits, education facilities and a 1,000-seat banqueting suite.

© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

© gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects

China Maritime Museum by gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, Lingang New City, China

China’s first Maritime Museum, this project rises as a monumental icon in a new city development. The design centers upon large grid shells that point towards the East China Sea and the country’s long naval history.

© Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects

© Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects

© Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects

© Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects

Maritime Center Vellamo by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, Kotka, Finland

The Vellamo Maritime Center houses both the Kymenlaakso Provincial Museum and the Maritime Museum of Finland. Housing seafaring vessels and a broad collection, the design includes space for archaeological research.

© Bossley Architects

© Bossley Architects

© Bossley Architects

© Bossley Architects

Voyager NZ Maritime Museumby Bossley Architects, Auckland, New Zealand

Recording New Zealand’s yachting history and exhibiting vessels themselves, the Voyager museum expands outwards and upwards over the water. Adapting an existing build, the project was formed with a series of planes which rethink the traditional form of the sheds.

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

The Waterfront Pavilion, Australian National Maritime Museum by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT), Sydney, Australia

The new Waterfront Pavilion at the Australian National Maritime Museum was built to mark the centenary of World War I and commemorate 100 years of service by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Located on a narrow existing wharf between two Australian naval vessels, the design was made to connect visitors to the surrounding waterfront, vessels and museum precinct.

© Kossmann.dejong

© Kossmann.dejong

Kaap Skil, Maritime and Beachcombers Museum by Mecanoo, Oudeschild, Texel, Netherlands

Building upon the Dutch tradition of reusing washed-up objects, Mecanoo designed this museum with a textured façade and peaked roof that echoes the character of the surrounding village. The reclaimed vertical slat façade plays with rhythm and shadows while heightening the contrast between floors.

© C.F. Møller Architects, Churchman Landscape, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton

© C.F. Møller Architects, Churchman Landscape, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton

© C.F. Møller Architects, Churchman Landscape, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton

© C.F. Møller Architects, Churchman Landscape, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton

© C.F. Møller Architects, Churchman Landscape, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton

© C.F. Møller Architects, Churchman Landscape, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Purcell Miller Tritton

National Maritime Museum London – the Sammy Ofer Wing by C.F. Møller Architects, Purcell Miller Tritton, Malcolm Reading Consultants, Churchman Landscape, London, United Kingdom

The design for the Sammy Ofer Wing expands exhibition and education space for the world’s largest maritime collection. Built with a new café, library and archives for the museum, the project also includes a new main entrance that emerges from the landscape and terrain.

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© AJ+C

Abbotsleigh Multipurpose School Sports Hall and Sports Field // AJ+C

Wahroonga, Australia

© Patterson Associates

Country House in the City // Patterson Associates

Auckland, New Zealand

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