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Art & Architecture/

Schmidt Hammer Lassen - SHL

Art & architecture – a meeting of minds

Great things can happen when an artist and architect have the opportunity to collaborate from the outset on a given project. At schmidt hammer lassen architects we have always tried to ensure that each project enshrines the possibility for a real collaborative effort. Two projects which are particularly significant within the evolving work of the practice exactly illustrate this idea of creative collaboration.

Culture Centre of Greenland

The decoration of the foyer in Culture Centre of Greenland is – as well as the building – a reference to the surrounding nature and Greenlandic culture. The Greenlandic artist Buuti Pedersen has created the relief based on the old myth of the sun and the moon called Malina & Aningaaq. The relief is carved directly into the wall.

Katuaq Culture Centre, Nuuk, Greenland/

ARoS Aarhus Museum of Art

At the ARoS Aarhus Museum of Art in Denmark the dialogue between architect and artist has been a continuous process. The organic, fluid design of the interior has created a flexible container for the display of art, the central sinuous path providing a public route through the building and also allowing the visitor to engage with and explore the exhibits.

Recently, we were invited by the client to revisit the scheme and extend this idea of public engagement. The museum wished to strengthen the iconic nature of the building by creating an interactive artwork at the roof level – literally creating a new dimension, both physically and artistically, to the existing building. A decision was taken to collaborate with the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and the result is Your Rainbow Panorama, a permanent artwork hovering like a luminous circle and a visual link between the museum roof and the Aarhus skyline. At the centre of this outer circle is a vast silver ball projecting a complete spectrum of colours, creating the sensation of walking through the interior of a rainbow – visitors will have spectacular views over the city and the sky filtered through every gradation of colour.

ARoS is a vivid example of the possibilities that can be achieved when the levels of trust between client, artist and architect allow for the opportunity to fully explore and develop their collective ideas. The result is something far more significant than merely a symbiotic relationship between art and architecture – it creates the possibility of completely reinventing the basic notion of civic experience.

The Royal Library

At the Royal Library in Copenhagen we were fortunate to work alongside the acclaimed artist Per Kirkeby. Together we identified the link area between the old library and the new building as a critical space, where an artwork could positively enhance the sense of connection that we were trying to create. Here, Kirkeby suspended a large circular canvas floating above the information desk, a painting that announces the transition between old and new. Kirkeby’s abstract design brilliantly suggests a sense of shifting mood and invites the visitor to pause and reflect. As with all great works of art, the piece is ambiguous in that it relies on individual interpretation – it is both monumental and intensely personal and exactly captures the ethos of the building as a whole, a place for study and exploration.


Artist Per Kirkeby had to use the floor of a sports centre when painting his 210 square metres large work of art. The artwork is decorating the entire ceiling of the bridge area between the old and the new building of the Royal Library.

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