© Thomas Mølvig
© Thomas Mølvig


HEART - Herning Museum of Contemporary Art


Herning, Denmark

Order Volume

559 m²


Steven Holl Architects
Kjær & Richter




Façade | Skylight

Building Type


HEART - Herning Museum of Contemporary Art

Herning, Denmark

Art in a dynamic Shell - The Herning Museum of Contemporary Art designed by Steven Holl using OKAPANE from OKALUX

All of the museum buildings designed by Steven Holl share a common feature: they are graceful, elegant and in a way characteristic for his style – aesthetic. The new Museum for Contemporary Art in Herning located on the Danish peninsula of Jutland is no exception: fascinating the viewer with the strong presence of the sculptural exposed concrete on the one hand, while, at the same time, subtly and harmonically blending into its Environment.

The design by Steven Holl reflects for the most part the very old industrial history of the City of Herning – which was once the home of a shirt factory nearby. The floor plan of the Museum serves as a reminder in the form of four intertwined sleeves. Its dynamic movement continues on to the outside where elongated grass hills and generous water basins give the impression that the building is ascending out of these landscape elements. With this exciting interplay, Steven Holl has embedded the landscape in the context of the building – thus allowing the museum and the surrounding landscape to merge. The architectural idea of the textiles is not only mirrored in the floor plan of the building but reflected in the very feel of the surface. The generous shear walls of white concrete do not have the usual, smooth form but depict a moving structure reminiscent of wrinkled fabric. This wrinkled element was achieved by placing plastic nets in the formwork.



The centre of the building is formed by two generous exhibition rooms grouped by the foyer, concert room, library, office rooms, café/restaurant, and the open air stage. Arched roof elements of steel lattice girders with an amazingly large projecting roof overhang make the design very distinctive. The convexly bent girders lend the interior an impressive atmosphere when viewed from below as they bring images of lengths of material or sails to mind.

In order to afford a natural illumination of the exhibition areas, individual roof segments were offset to allow for large skylights. These were carried out with sandblasted U-profile glass and fitted with translucent heat insulation from OKALUX. The 40 mm thick OKAPANE capillary slabs diffuse the daylight softly into the exhibition rooms. The inlay of PMMA has very high light transmission values while it protects the exhibits from UV rays. To take advantage of these characteristics, the translucent glazing was also used on large areas of the outer surface of the museum in all of the glazed areas over the ground floor. The incidental, diffuse daylight gives the exhibition rooms a bright and pleasant atmosphere; transparent glass surfaces, for example, in the foyer and the café/restaurant, make a connection to the outside when walking through the Museum.

With the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art Steven Holl has, once again, created an impressive space for art by coordinating distinctive design with the right materials and excellent light quality.