Eliasson: Moving into Architecture

Eliasson: Moving into Architecture

Icelandic-Danish artist and designer Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) is known for an innovative engagement with elemental materials including light, water and air. Transforming these resources into large-scale, spatial works such as The Weather Project, which dominated the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London, in 2003, the practitioner offers immersive experiences whilst remaining socially and conceptually responsive, engaging with arts education, policy-making and climate change.

Fjordenhus, the first building realised by Eliasson and his architectural team, builds on this receptive practice. Designed to incorporate a range of site-specific artworks, furniture and lighting, it offers a contemporary interpretation of the “total work of art”, comprising complex curved and circular forms and sculptural arches. As he notes, the structure “Turn[s] years of research—on perception, physical movement, light, nature, and the experience of space—into a building that is at once a total work of art and a fully functional architectural structure.”

Located in Vejle, Denmark, the structure rises out of the fjord, creating a connection between industrial and natural landscapes. Engaging in a dialogue with the ever-changing surface of the water, Fjordenhus provides a unique reflection on society’s relationship to the sea and the climate at large. Eliasson continues: “We experimented from early on with how to create an organic building that would respond to the ebb and flow of the tides, to the shimmering surface of the water, changing at different times of the day and of the year.”

The building – which comprises four intersecting cylinders – is 28 metres high, offering a double height entrance that makes a bold architectural statement. Expanding Eliasson’s investigations into notions of understanding space, the undulating exterior design both encourages and defies definition. “The building transform[s] our perception of it as we move through its spaces,” he says.

Explaining the process behind the creation, architect Sebastian Behmann, Head of Design at Studio Olafur Eliasson, notes: “Throughout the process, we were very attentive to the choreography and sequencing of spaces, using modulation of light and acoustics to heighten all the building’s sensory aspects. One experiences Fjordenhus as a sculptural presence in the harbour, an interaction of solids and voids.”

Fjordenhus opens 9 June. Find out more here.

1. Olafur Eliasson and Studio Olafur Eliasson, Fjordenhus, 2009-2018. Vejle, Denmark. Client: Kirk Kapital. Photo: Anders Sune Berg, 2018 © 2018 Olafur Eliasson