House of the Arts / Svendborg Architects

House of the Arts is a new central destination for art creation in the former military barracks of Kildegården in Roskilde, Denmark. Svendborg Architects, landscape architects BOGL and engineers Regnestuen and Spangenberg & Madsen have created a masterplan for the area, with the House of the Arts as a key component in a new cultural campus.

In 2016, Svendborg Architects, landscape architects BOGL and engineering firms Regnestuen and Spangenberg & Madsen won a competition for masterplan of Kildegaarden and House of the Arts in Roskilde, Denmark. Kildegården is a former military barracks that has now become a campus for culture, leisure, sport and student residences. With the new masterplan, the area’s existing urban structure, ancient trees and materials remains, while new facilities and urban spaces create strong connections to Roskilde’s historic city centre.

House of the Arts is located in the middle of a new central square, a significant destination in Kildegården with a coherent paving that defines its importance. The building is placed adjacent to two new urban spaces, The Event Circle and The Dancing Scene, as a cultural epicentre in the area. The central square creates hierarchy and coherence in the barracks’ urban structure, with the House of the Arts becomes a key component within the new urban landscape.

Like the main square, the House of the Arts functions as a unifying space in Kildegården.

The building’s floor plan is a perfect square, while its roof slants from the front to almost seven metres in the back. With its unusual shape, the building mediates between the scales of the surrounding barrack buildings and a lower scale towards the main square. It clearly stands out as a central point in Kildegården that people in the area can orient towards.

The concept of the House of the Arts is to bring practicing artists and the public closer together. Therefore, the building consists of a single, square room without interior walls that functions as a meeting point for both creating and enjoying arts. Different events will take place in the art house during the year, and as it will be run by the local community, the facilities will be open to the public and encourage free and experimental use.

On the outside, the exterior roof and walls are coated with specular, red-nuanced aluminium sheets that reflect and distort the surroundings. The shining surface and colour tone brings a modern touch to the square, while still relating to the red brick houses of the existing Kildegården campus. In this way, the building both stands out in terms of its geometry and materials, but also manages to blend subtly into the surroundings.

While the colour scheme on House of the Arts’ exterior relates to the existing barracks, the inside of the building functions as the white canvas of a painter, making the artistic activities decide the current atmosphere of the room. The different art forms are allowed to leave their mark on the space, and drops of paint colour have already dotted the bright concrete floor, making it a collection of traces over time.

The large main room can be subdivided into different spaces with movable furniture. That makes the space suitable for many different occasions, as its elements can be rearranged and fit into a range of different functions, from painting and sculpture to music, performing arts and larger events. The ceiling, furniture and movable walls are all cladded with acoustic panels that dim the sounds to enhance concentration.

The roof is one rising surface which culminates at the top in a large skylight, shedding daylight on the back wall. The indirect light creates a calm and pleasant atmosphere and optimal light conditions for creating art. Along the walls, large window openings connect the building seamlessly within its outdoor areas, while bringing plenty of light inside. Along the windows, façade columns create divisions in the large room where people can practise the different artistic disciplines, while the equipment can be stored and arranged so the artistic processes are visible from the outside.

The house is designed to have no front and back, but is predisposed so that the main entrance faces the central square, from where the wardrobe, kitchenette and bathroom facilities are also located. Being in the same level as the surrounding urban spaces, the boundary between inside and outside becomes blurred and encourages a flowing relationship between the activities in- and outside the building. Thus, people are drawn into the new, inviting cultural centre, while the artistic creations comes closer to the visitors of Kildegården and the residents of Roskilde.