Henry Dunker Culture Centre
The design was inspired by the close relationship between the town and Øresund; the strait between Denmark and Sweden.
The Henry Dunker Culture Centre is situated in Norra Hamnen, Helsingborg’s newly developed northern harbour area, with magnificent views of the sea. Arriving by boat the two curved roofs, that house the stage tower and concert hall, become a continuation of the ocean waves.
Recognizable Utzon trademarks are the slender white columns, supporting the structure, and the “additive” system of skylights, placed like periscopes on the roof, letting diffused light into the building.
The building, one of the largest cultural centers in Scandinavia, houses a new international art museum, a town museum , a concert hall, with a panoramic view of the Øresund strait, a smaller “black box” theater, a restaurant, a café and a museum shop. The Centre is also the home for Helsingborg’s School of Music with access to practice and recording rooms for 3000 students.
To insure maximum harmony with the other buildings along the harbor Utzon took great care in his selection of materials; the framework of the building is made up of prefabricated concrete elements, the facing bricks of the exterior walls have a finely rendered surface that has been finished by scouring with sacking and then coated with white paint, the roof is clad in titanium-zinc sheeting. An octagon skylight on the roof of the restaurant functions as a sundial during the daytime.
The plan was inspired by the medieval town, with a central square connecting all the public activities, and all administrative functions in the surrounding wall. The lobby is light and airy with raw painted walls, visible ceiling insulation, blue ceramic tiles, black iron railings and sand colored concrete and Siberian lark tree on floors and stairs. Stairs, elevators and three levels of interior sky lit corridors connect all functions.
Light pours into all areas of the building from large windows, skylights and the interior courtyard. The flexible gallery spaces are purposely kept with the only daylight coming from the north facing “periscope” skylights.
The restaurant on the second floor and a separate Bistro at ground level overlooks the harbor. Light enters the restaurant through the octagonal skylight.
The interior vaulted ceilings in both the 350 seat concert hall and the 170 seat theater are clad in laminated birch wood.
With Utzon’s choice of materials, and the emphasis on the light and the sea, Dunkers Cultural Centre is deeply rooted in the Scandinavian architecture traditions. The building received the Swedish “Concrete Prize” 2002.