Project in Detail
GeoCenter Møns Klint
PLH architects, Copenhagen, Denmark
World Architecture Festival 2008 - Shortlisted
GeoCenter Møns Klint designed by PLH arkitekter
GeoCenter Møns Klint is a natural science museum and education centre for Danish geology, as well as the flora and fauna indigenous to the area. The 3,000 square meter museum is sited by Store Klint at the edge of the 100 meter high chalk cliffs
of Møn, facing the Baltic Sea. From the museum, you can walk down the long, historic
steps to the beach. The cliffs have long been one of Denmark’s largest natural attractions
with 250,000 visitors annually. The architectural intent from the onset was to demonstrate respect for this unique natural environment. The central idea of the
design is to create a building that appears smaller than it is, so it fits itself into the
surrounding nature and becomes one with it.
The building is visionary and gentle – fitting into the natural environment and creating an
elegant framework for the exhibition. To respect the landscape and existing vegetation, all of the
exhibition area is dug into an existing hillside, and only the double-height main hall with visitor
facilities and restaurant are visible above the terrain. This visible part of the building has a
floating wing-form and quickly adopted the name “the wing”. The curved form has already become an icon for the GeoCenter. The building’s façade facing the parking area
winds itself gently around to existing beach trees in a soft concave. The façade’s upper threequarters are clad in untreated vertical lark timber battens. The timber façade, whilst referencing the surrounding forest, also acts as a screen on which the afternoon sun projects lively shadow pictures of the surrounding trees’ branches. The lowest
quarter of the façade has a continuous glazed element, giving the façade a floating, light quality.
A white in-situ formed concrete wall leads visitors to the entrance of the centre, and continues inside to become the eastern wall of the lobby, running
the full length of the building.
The double-height main hall, with its clearly defined yet gently curved lines, extends the entire length of the building.
Despite the massive proportions of the concrete wall, the hall provides a congenial atmosphere for visitors. Lighting here is gentle and conducive. The end facades and the continuous band of windows flood the main hall with natural daylight while offering visitors a dramatic view of the beach forrest..
The restaurant and exhibition areas function as two independent parts under one roof. From the lobby you can consequently enter into the hillside and down to the exhibition areas, or directly up to the restaurant. The lobby is easy to navigate, with the ticket sales and shop signalling access to the exhibition areas and the restaurant’s stairs at the end of the lobby’s promenade.
The access area to the exhibition creates a contrast to the lobby’s light and spacious volume. The colours here are dark and the ceiling height is lower. There are punctuated views into the exhibition.
The restaurant has a balcony connecting it to the lobby below for the full length of the building. The restaurant has direct access to a wide terrace that runs along the building’s eastern façade
The exhibition is an underground world that portrays the history of the creation of Denmark, the cliffs existence, as well as the flora and fauna of the area.
Similarly to the building’s materials, the floor plan for the exhibition area is inspired by nature, and formed on the basis of the unique stories and background attached to Møns Klint. For example, the exhibition’s various “caves” are placed like vertebrae on a dinosaur’s spine, making reference to the fossils that have been found at Møns Klint.
Architecturally, the exhibition is established in two sub-terrain levels representing the past and present respectively. The sparse daylight seeps in through gaps in the terrain, and despite being underground; there is a feeling throughout of light and the surrounding nature. The dramatically formed daylight hatches function simultaneously as escape paths.
Throughout the project process, the aim has been to create an environmentally friendly building. Consequently, the building’s orientation is optimal for daylight infiltration, and the main hall and restaurant are both naturally ventilated. In addition, the building has a high content of natural materials without surface treatments.
Furthermore, nature conservation and regeneration has comprised a significant part of the project. New water management has been established for the building, solving a previously unaddressed situation that lead to pollution of the area.
The building was developed in close dialogue with the environmental protection authorities to ensure that the unique vegetation and surroundings were preserved.
Attention has been paid not only to the new building. Existing asphalt areas have been removed and replaced with grass, and the terrain has been regulated back to its original gentle forms.
The buildings materials and colours are inspired by nature. Many of the building’s surfaces make reference to the cliffs’ colours, chalk composition and surroundings. Unpainted white materials are consequently used in many variations, for example in the form of concrete, cement and plaster. The roof of the visible building form is made of zinc, which reflects the sky on an overcast day, and contrasts with the white nuances. The façade facing the parking area and the large outdoor terrace is clad in untreated larch timber, making reference to the surrounding forest landscapeDe
The Hotel - now administration and education centre
The existing hotel from the end of the 19th century was completely rundown before PLH arkitekter commenced work. The hotel building has now been fully restored for use as a centre for education and research for students and scientists, together with administration and a service workshop for the exhibitions.