Copenhagen Celebrates the Experimentarium

A copper-clad staircase and aluminium exterior intentionally convey the importance of science and inquiry.
13 April, 2017
The Experimentarium is one of Copenhagen's biggest tourist attractions, and a science and technology destination beloved by young and old alike.
So when it reopened in early 2017, it's no surprise that Crown Prince Frederik was on hand to welcome the redesigned building back to Denmark's center.

The Experimentarium originally opened in 1991 but was under renovation for three years, a process overseen by the CEBRA architectural studio. The redesign meant expanding the original building, which was formerly a waterfront bottling plant for Tuborg beer company, and doubling the available space for exhibits. It also meant building up the connection between the old brick building and the city around it.

Those bricks served as a base for the architects, who preserved them from the original building – but the rest of their work reflects a giant 21st-century leap that "future proofs" the center, the architects say.
The new exterior stacks aluminium-clad boxes atop the bricks, adding floors and connecting them with atria and sculptural staircases. The new floors are wrapped in a modern perforated aluminium in a design that intentionally interprets the behavioral mechanics of fluids when they encounter resistance. The cladding evokes the sense of scientific inquiry and learning that is the Experimentarium mission.

It also honors the heritage of the bottling facility, because recycled beer and aluminium cans were used extensively in creating the 28-ton aluminium façade.
Image: ArchDaily
"In selected spots, large glass sections form "eyes" that expose the wonderful Experimentarium universe and are applied as a form of architectural rubato," the architects explain, referring to the musical term that describes the expressive shaping of music by means of slight shifts and changes of tempo.

Atop the highest cantilevered box on the 26,850 square meter center is a roof terrace, which overlooks the harbor, an ice rink and waterfront district shopping. The renovations also added a café and picnic area, a convention center, teaching spaces and workshops, and improvements to the staff offices.
Images: ArchDaily
The expansion inside adds up to 11,500 square meters of space for science and technology learning. A new addition is what Experimentarium claims is the first interactive cinema, equipped with motion sensors. It's meant to be entertaining but has the serious purpose of getting people active and taking people away from their smartphones and screens. "When technology and entertainment go hand in hand in the right way, we can also create physical experiences that inspire us to become more active - just like The Interactive Film Theatre does," says Experimentarium project manager Henrik Helsgaun.

The center's exhibits also include everything from soap bubbles to brain matter to robotic arms.
Inside, a stunning 100-meter-long staircase sweeps up to four separate floors in the shape of a helix. The staircase was built using 160 tons of steel and an additional 10 tons of copper for the cladding. The helix spirals are just inside the entrance and easily admired by passers-by at street level outside, who also are dazzled by the high reflectivity of the exterior cladding.
"During a workshop with Jakob Bohr, professor at DTU Nanotech, we were inspired to work with the stairs as an abstract version of the DNA strand's structure," the architects explain. The helix staircase is the centerpiece of the new Experimentarium, which plays an important role in the educational system, and conveys the importance of human discovery while connecting the spaces that are devoted to it.
Banner image: Arcspace