The Desert Fortress
The Skagen Odde Nature Center, a museum for the natural elements, is situated in the open dune landscape on the northernmost tip of Denmark where the two oceans, Kattegat and Skagerak, meet.
The Center, planned after Utzon’s design from 1989, is a collaboration between Jørn Utzon and his son and partner Jan Utzon.
Considering that the sea and nature have been fundamental in Jørn Utzon’s work it seems natural to have selected the world renowned Danish architect to design a museum for the wind, the water, the light and the sand.
“The Desert Fortress,” as the Center has been named, appears as an enclosed fortress surrounded by a four meter tall brick wall. The simple brick wall has a calm appearance in the open dune landscape while at the same time offering protection from the harsh Skagen weather. The materials are subdued and few; gray concrete, gray plastered walls and black roofing felt.
From the entrance, a covered opening in the north wall, one enters the arrival area from where there is access to the permanent exhibitions in the separate pavilions.
|A building must have a soul that corresponds to the mood you are in; be in tune with what you are doing|
The scheme consists of small scale pavilions with pyramidal roofs topped by north oriented skylights that are formed like periscopes. Each pavilion is dedicated to an element, sand, water, wind and light.
There are small courtyards, reflecting pools, walkways, places to overlook the surrounding landscape and an atrium court where the landscape opens up for the viewer.
From the balcony of the diagonally placed Café, a two-storey space, there is a wide view over the sand landscape that increases year after year.
The best view out is from the top of a 10.5 meter tall Observation Tower where you are surrounded by the dune landscape containing the four elements that are part of Skagen’s special character; sand, water, wind and light.