Hans Christian Andersen's House of Fairytales (2013)

Team: Laertis Antonios Ando Vassiliou, Pantelis Kampouropoulos, Giorgios Siokas, Reem Saouma, Xanthippi Alexi Vassiliou

Tales are the distillate of life. Stories, either surreal or more realistic, created by story-tellers to entertain, educate and stimulate children’s imagination. Hans Christian Andersen was a different kind of story-teller. As an educator, he chose a difficult approach when creating his tales, the darkest one. His stories often criticize human behaviors, question values and trial moralities. There is poverty, misery, death and sadness while most of the times Andersen’s point of view is religious, where “sinners” end up in their personal Hell. His stories describe this gradual transformation as a path, where thoughts and decisions stand as checkpoints for the characters. Readers will follow this journey to either remorse or insanity sharing the same feelings and empathizing with the characters, through the writings of the descriptive story-teller.

The architectural challenge was to extract the dark feelings evoked by Andersen's fairy tales and translate them into space and ambience. The proposed House of Fairytales should expand beyond the confinement of a single building and offer a haunting experience to all visitors, just like with HCA's tales. It is a subterranean museum combining two important desirables; create a breathtaking facility and offer as much open space as possible to the public. Focusing on symbolism and poetics of space we created a large green garden with two different, overlapping grids forming the pathways and an underground, inverted pyramid. The visitor's route start at The Village, a maze installation between mirror-clad little houses which leads to the Vanity Tower, the new landmark for Odense's skyline . The tower consists of a cone cut in the middle with two sides. The curved side is clad with shattered mirror parts, a traditional symbol of bad luck, while the flat side consists of a glass façade that reveals the rusty interior of the tower, a material chosen to remind us of the decadent conscience of vain people. After the Vanity Tower, visitors start to descent into the museum starting with the Willow Tree Hall, the main museum hall, which with its mirror-clad walls and columns creates an illusion of infinite space. From the Willow Tree Hall starts the Descending route leading to exhibition domes dedicated to Andersen's life, travels and numerous publications of his work, worldwide. In the middle of the route visitors can stop at the Wisdom Hall, an evocative 10 meter high exhibition hall able to host exhibitions and art installations. The route ends at the lower level, which houses a shop and a medium-size auditorium for lectures and workshops. Rough industrial materials are used for the whole museum in order to trigger a poetic contrast enhanced with symbolism . Glass, mirrors, naked engraved concrete and rust metal are the main materials to compose the New House of Fairytales