The winner has just been selected for the architectural competition to design the new Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde in Denmark.

An attractive, open design by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, founded in Copenhagen in 1985, was chosen out of the final three, as revealed in a museum presentation. 

In Roskilde, the five renowned Skuldelev ships from the Viking era are on display. 

Discovered in 1962 in the nearby Roskilde Fjord, these ships were intentionally sunk in 1070. This strategic action was taken to block the Peberrenden waterway, serving as a defense against potential invasions. 

The Skuldelev ships are housed in a ship hall in Roskilde as a major tourist attraction. 

The necessity for their ongoing protection and sustainable maintenance underscores the importance of constructing a more permanent home for these historic vessels. 

The new museum building, set to become a landmark in Roskilde, will feature an innovative use of wood, a nod to the shipbuilding materials used during the Viking Age. Source: KVANT-1 + Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

New design unveiled 

Through 2023, a team of experts had been assessing several proposals for the new design. 

This process has just culminated in the announcement of the winners – all the entries will be on view at Roskilde's Viking Ship Hall until Sunday, January 28.

On hand for the unveiling, Danish Minister for Culture Jacob Engel-Schmidt said: "We recently had extremely bad weather which, once again, underlined the need for new surroundings for the Viking ships in Roskilde." 

"Therefore, it's really good news that the project has taken this vital step forward. Because in the future, we will also need to look after the unique cultural heritage these ships represent and exhibit the ships so that the public can learn about a vital period in our history." 

The new museum already received DKK 310 million (EUR 41.5 million) in funding to secure the Viking ships.

Museum Director Tinna Damgård-Sørensen was delighted with the news: "Today, it's 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." 

With construction set to begin in 2025, the new Viking Ship Museum is poised to become a fusion of historical reverence and modern architectural innovation, making it a future cultural hotspot in Roskilde. Source: KVANT-1 + Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

Using wood, respecting nature 

The new building is designed with visible structural details in wood, in a rhythm that mirrors the current Viking Ship Hall. 

Lene Tranberg of Lundgaard & Tranberg explained the concept: "As architects, this is a dream come true. We have the opportunity to work in the borderland between protecting and renewing the unique cultural heritage, which both the Viking ships and the Viking Ship Hall represent." 

"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." 

The new building will be constructed in wood, a material that connects to the past via the houses and ships of the Viking Age

It also creates a connection to the modern buildings on Museum Island and life at the harbor. 

It will be built along the spring stream, which runs from Roskilde Bypark and down to the fjord. 

In this way, a clear and aesthetic connection will be created to the town and Roskilde Cathedral, the foundations of which were laid by the Vikings who sailed the Skuldelev ships 1,000 years ago. 

"Roskilde Fjord is a unique fjord landscape in Denmark," said Malene Hjortsø Kyndesen. "In the Viking Age, the fjord was the link between Roskilde town and the seven seas." 

"It was vital for us that the new museum building would contribute to visitors noticing that connection." 

"As soon as you arrive, you meet a long, slightly curved building, which leads towards the fjord and the entrance to the museum. The elongated shape of the building enhances the exhibition of the five Viking ships as a collective fleet with their natural orientation towards the sea." 

"The space around the ships is airy and positions them as the primary museum experience."

As the Mayor of Roskilde, Tomas Breddam, outlined: "The winning entry by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects creates a fantastic connection between the new building for the Viking ships, the current Viking Ship Hall, Roskilde town, and the landscape." 

"We will get a large beach meadow, which can cope with water and invite local flora into the area and fit in with the surrounding fjord landscape." 

"In this way, it's an architectural work, whose qualities lie not just in the actual building, but which are expressed in unison with the landscape, nature, history, and people." 

The existing Viking Ship Hall is reimagined to open onto a newly created public square, fostering a seamless interaction between the hall's interior and the outdoor space. Source: KVANT-1 + Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter

A sustainable future 

The northern side of the new building will feature an attractive open space where visitors can step outside for a view over the Museum Harbour. 

Here, the original archaeological ships are brought to life when reconstructed versions of the Viking ships sail out in the summer months

The reconstruction process allows the public to view experts at work, using original methods from the Viking Age to build the vessels according to exact specifications.

With sustainability in mind, the creation of the new museum will preserve 90% of the concrete and 80% of the bricks from the original Viking Ship Hall by Erik Christian Sørensen. 

"The beautiful proposal for the transformation of the Hall is clearly drawn with great respect for the original architectural work," said Mette Tony, an architect with Praksis Arkitekter and a panel member. 

"The alterations will be carried out with great empathy for the Viking Ship Hall's tectonic qualities. The Hall will be of even greater benefit to Roskilde and will be revitalized as an architectural masterpiece, which has been carried into a new era." 

Planning of the new museum will continue until 2025 when construction begins. This will run into 2027, and the Viking ships will move into the new building in 2028. 

Over the following two years, the new Viking Ship Hall and surrounding landscape will be prepared for the first visitors in 2030. 

Viking Ship Museum, Vindeboder 12, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark. Open daily, 10 am-4 pm. 

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