Foster + Partners misses out in Viking Ship Museum contest

A team led by Copenhagen-based Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects has won the top prize, selceted ahead of 42 rival submissions. The other finalists were Foster + Partners, Snøhetta of Oslo with CF Møller, and the Danish firms Dorte Mandrup and 3XN.

Foster + Partners’ finalist team included local firm Mikkelsen Architects, landscape architects Schønherr and the engineering and sustainability consultant WSP.

The two-stage competition sought a design for a new home for the waterfront museum, which was constructed in 1969 to house the excavated remains of five Viking ships that were deliberately sunk at Skuldelev in the Roskilde Fjord 900 years ago.

The 31,000m² project aims to deliver a new museum of ‘high architectural and experiential quality that vividly and actively conveys the history of the Viking Age, ships, seafaring and boat building culture’. Key aims include delivering a new landscape strategy for the flood-prone site to promote better connections to the waterfront.

The Viking Ship Museum’s director, Tinna Damgård-Sørensen, said: ‘[It is] with great relief that we can present the new sustainable building, which will protect the irreplaceable Viking ships for the future.

‘The new home for the ships will lie at the highest point on the museum site, at a safe remove from the power of the sea and the ships will be protected from the destructive effects of natural daylight.

‘At the same time, the winning project also suggested a really beautiful transformation of the existing Viking Ship Hall, which greatly respects its architectonic qualities. The winning project fully supports the museum’s maritime narrative by including a public area, which can also be used as a slipway for the museum’s ships.’

The winning concept will create a new timber exhibition building located a short distance from the existing Viking Ship Hall, which will also be restored and upgraded to feature a new public square and improved visual connections to the surrounding landscape.

Lene Tranberg, partner and founder of Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, said: ‘From the outset, we have been focused on finding the obvious and strong solution, which can both engage the potential this special place has while preserving free access to the fjord for the general public.

‘We have positioned the new museum building in such a way that it unites the three very different groups of buildings and at the same time, creates space and a natural transition to the landscape between them. It creates a unified museum experience with the fjord and the beach meadow – indeed, with nature as the great, unifying force.’

Alongside Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects – the winning team also features the landscape architect Marianne Levinsen Landskab, the regeneration expert Christoffer Harlang Architects, sustainability consultants Aaen Engineering, Niras Engineering and exhibition designer JAC Studios.

Located 30km west of Copenhagen, Roskilde is the 10th most populous city in Denmark with around 50,000 inhabitants. The settlement overlooking Roskilde Fjord was founded by the Vikings and served as the capital of Denmark from the 11th century until 1443.

The Viking Ship Museum features the ruins of five excavated boats that were deliberately sunk in 1070 to protect Roskilde from an enemy attack from the sea. Alongside the city’s UNESCO-protected cathedral, the museum is a major visitor attraction, receiving around 100,000 tourists every year.

The latest project – planned to complete in 2030 – aims to deliver a new ‘future-proof’ headquarters for the museum, demonstrating an ‘innovative sustainability focus’. Key aims include transforming the existing structure, the creation of a new fjord path and creating 3,300m² of additional new buildings.