Steven Holl Architects

September 07, 2009 /

Herning, Denmark

Photo © Christian Richters

The landscape of grass mounds and reflecting pools aligns with a geometry of curved roof sections of the new building that houses permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 150-seat auditorium, music rehearsal rooms, a restaurant, a media library, and administrative offices all on one level.

The new surrounding landscape conceals all the parking and service areas, creating a fusion of landscape and architecture.

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

HEART is designed to relate to its neighbors, Utzon's prototype house and the Angli shirt factory, thereby also relating to history. An aerial view of the new building almost resembles a collection of shirtsleeves.

Photo courtesy HEART

The theme is about tactility and materiality. Taking as inspiration the history of textiles in Herning, the external white concrete walls, moulded on-site, has a crumbled, textile-like surface. These tactile (and textile) references are continued in the roof, which govern the floor plan.

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

The "square," featuring a large pool, is surrounded by the restaurant, library, and visitor's centre. Furnished with outdoor stage facilities, it will serve as the pivotal point of relaxed social interaction during the summer season.

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

The curved roofs, made up of five shells, are a two-way truss system able to span in multiple directions allowing for a freedom between the roof structure and plan. The undersides of the interior are a simple white plaster complementing the geometry of the roof.

The overall stability of the roof is anchored by introducing thin rods within the clerestory glazing as tension elements intended to counterbalance any uneven forces over the gallery wall support, like a see-saw tied down on each side.

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

The gallery spaces are clean and simple with natural light brought in through the curved roof sections. The perimeter walls are load bearing elements, the internal gallery walls are a lightweight construction that can be moved if required. Their perpendicular linearity plays up against the organically anthropomorphic nature of the building.

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

Photo © Christian Richters

The inauguration of HEART is celebrated with the official opening of Freedom or Death, a retrospective exhibition of the work of one of the great sons of Italy, Jannis Kounellis.

HEART has two institutions in residence: Ensemble MidtVest and Socle du Monde. The Ensemble is the preeminent chamber music company in Denmark, while Socle du Monde is a biennial founded on collaboration between artists and the business community.

Photo © Christian RichtersThe Auditorium

Sketch courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsAuditorium Sketch

A geothermal cooling system is among several green aspects which set this new museum as exemplary of 21st century architecture.

Sketch courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsConcept Sketch

Sketch courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsExterior View

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSite Plan
Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsGround Floor Plan

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSection

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSection

Model photo courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsView from Northwest

Model photo courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsView from Southwest

Photo courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsConstruction mock-up

Facts about HEART

Site area:

12,000 m2
Building area: 5,600 m2

Design architect:

Steven Holl

Project architect:

Noah Yaffe

Project advisor:

Chris McVoy

Project team:

Lesley Chang
JongSeo Lee
Julia Radcliffe
Filipe Taboada
Christina Yessios

Competition team:

Cosimo Caggiula
Martin Cox
Alessandro Orsini

Local architect:

Kjaer and Richter A/S

Mechanical engineer:

Niras, Transsolar

Structural engineer:


Landscape architect:

Schønherr Landskab

The design agency Kontrapunkt created the identity and logo for HEART Herning Museum of Contemporary Art.


Herning Center of the Arts

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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