Skagen Odde Nature Center
This museum for the natural elements is situated in the open dune landscape of the northernmost tip of Denmark, where the two oceans of Kattegat and Skagerak meet.
Af Kirsten Kiser
Planned from Utzon’s design from 1989, the center is a collaboration between Jørn Utzon and his son and partner, Jan Utzon.
Considering that 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 Skagen’s harsh 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.
— Jørn Utzon
The scheme consists of small-scale pavilions with pyramidal roofs, topped by north-oriented skylights formed like periscopes. Each pavilion is dedicated to an element: sand, water, wind, and light.
There are small courtyards, reflecting pools, walkways, places to look over the surrounding landscape, and an atrium court where the landscape opens up to the viewer.
From the balcony of the diagonally placed Café, a two-story space, a wide view bears witness to the sand landscape increasing year after year.
The best view out is from the top of a 10,5-meter-tall observation tower, where one is surrounded by the dune landscape containing the four elements that are part of Skagen’s special character; sand, water, wind, and light.