The buildings in the Wadden Sea Centre gather together as a large thatched farm house that shelters from the wind and creates an inner courtyard. From a distance, visitors will notice the large roofed farm, draped in one fabric, which shows up as an island in the landscape.
The soft roof of the four wings unites and shapes the building as an extension of the surrounding landscape. The soft thatch cladding is adapted sculpturally with long precise cuts to create overhangs, shelter, and intersections between diagonal and vertical surfaces.
South of the exhibition space, the new communication building parallels the existing facility to create a harmonious end to the site. This building accommodates a ranger office, unheated barn, and workshop area. The overall flow of circulation moves from the parking lot through the main entrance and ticket sales, exhibition space, café and shop to the communication buildings and expansive landscape.
The new building embraces the existing buildings; a new wing transforms the site into a distinctive whole which adapts to the natural setting and vernacular building style.
The new north wing extends the width of the existing exhibition building, creating synergy with existing structure. The long eastward addition continues in the same type of expansion, creating large flexible volumes that can be divided and arranged in natural symbiosis with the selected exhibit design, now and in the future. In total, the exhibition space in its new form contains eight galleries and a cinema.
The arrival facade to the north recedes, welcoming visitors with a slightly-raised covered terrace. A diagonal ramp leads visitors to the patio and along an inclined wall which naturally leads to the foyer.
Minimal intervention in the existing building improves daylighting, yet preserves its historical character.
The roofs and facades of the new additions are built out of marsh reeds. This ancient cladding and bonding material is supplemented with clearly defined glass panels and wooden strip facades.
The same language of wooden strips is used on the existing exhibition building. Over time, the wooden cladding, walkways, ramps, and terraces built from Black Locust (Robinia) will gain a silver-grey patina.
”The winning proposal is unique and places focus on the main goal of the Wadden Sea Centre: To create awareness and understanding for the marshland and the Wadden Sea. The architecture is sustainable, visionary and bold and brings forth the Centre as an didactic information centre of the future“ says jury member and leader of the Centre Klaus Melbye.
Head of committee, Mayor Johnny Søttrup, elaborates on the winning scheme: “Throughout the evaluation of the architectural proposals, It has been of great importance that the architecture is in harmony with the vast, horizontal landscape of the marsh as well as being significant and one of a kind”.
Engineers: Steensen & Varming and Anders Christensen Aps
Landscape: Marianne Levinsen Landscape
Text by Magnus Høst, Anniversary Magazine: Done by the acclaimed Danish architectural office, Dorte Mandrup, the museum is located in the southern part of Jutland, Denmark. The Wadden Sea is Denmark’s largest and newest national park and UNESCO appointed World Heritage site. Surrounded by the unique marshland, The Wadden Sea Centre gives the impression of a building that has emerged from the ground, drawing a soft, long and clear profile against the Wadden Sea’s infinite horizon. Here, the building stands as a clear interpretation of the local building tradition and the rural farmhouse typology significant in the area with its distinct thatched roofs and facades underlining the tactile qualities and robustness. The significant thatch, harvested from local wheat fields, folds into generous overhangs and then into walls, creating a singular, horizontal and monumental form. Whilst the resulting building appears somewhat introverted and enclosed in its expression, the thatch offers a tactility and variation which breaks down its mass and provokes a strong impulse to touch. This sense of intrigue is central to the project’s success – its materiality is at once familiar, resonating with a local vernacular, yet distinct, taking on a new poetic form while hosting a public function. The bright and polished exhibition spaces are in stark contrast to the tactile qualities of the external materials – whitewashed walls and ceilings provide sculptural but undefined rooms which reinforce the building’s sense of introversion and the division of internal and external space. The main building of the Wadden Sea Centre features the extended exhibition space, an entrance area with café, a covered terraced and office area, while the annex — opposite to the access — hosts education rooms, a second covered terrace and a storage space.