Odense DK

Type Invited project competition in two phases, 1st prize 2016
Team Kengo Kuma Architects Associated (main consultant), Cornelius+Vöge Architects, Eduard Troelsgård Engineers, Søren Jensen Engineers
Role Responsible for urban space and landscape
Client Odense Municipality
Funding A.P Møllers Støttefond, Odense Municipality, Augustinusfonden
Size 9,000 m2
Project start 2016
Status Completed 2021


Wandering, exploring and sensing are fundamental fairytale themes in the work of HC Andersen – and in the spatial concept of the museum and garden created in his honour. The borders are blurred to reflect the constant shift between reality and fantasy in his fairytale universe.


Walking from smaller secluded spaces, through openings and spatial changes, the museum visitor experiences a journey in constant transformation. Shifts in scale and colour, varying types of nature with symbolic characteristics and experiences of water appeal to the imagination. The garden and the museum are merged, through views and elements that directly link indoor and outdoor.

A subtle story of HC Andersen’s nature perception

Our garden doesn’t aim to tell the exact story of the Ugly Duckling or Thumbelina; quite the opposite – it lets you experience nature as perceived by HC Andersen – as a source of inspiration that sets the

imagination free but at the same time is unpredictable and wild. The natural order is in constant change with seasonal transformations and as life and decay replace one another. This conflict between harmony and chaos is present in the garden.

The role of the hedges

In the garden, walls are replaced by hedges that mimic the scale of the indoor spaces, blurring the border between garden and museum and allowing the wanderer to seep in and out of reality and fantasy, as do the characters of HC Andersen.

The garden stimulates the senses and tickles the imagination. Hedges are a classic garden element that mark out spaces with precise shapes. Here, they are exaggerated, deformed and stretched to encircle the complex and ambiguous worlds of HC Andersen’s stories.

A wanderer’s garden

Movement is necessary to experience the shifts in atmosphere as the compositions of plants and scale change from space to space. In the dark garden, the dense pines shut out the light and the strangely shaped beech

trees create an uncanny sense of decay. As you exit from the darkness and into the light garden, you feel a sense of relief as the space opens up, and you are embraced by white flowers and grasses swaying in the breeze.

Plants are essential elements in the garden, evoking a certain atmosphere with their colors, textures, smells, and shapes. In the giant garden, you feel small between the overgrown and out-of-scale leaves that surround you and filter the sunlight. Seasonal changes provide a constant sense of transition in varying colors, transparencies, and materialities.

A sunken garden and a bottomless pool are two of the elements that link the inside with the outside – blurring the border between museum and garden. In the pool garden, you can look up from underneath the water at the distorted clouds.

Part of HC Andersen’s Odense

To make the garden and museum part of the city where HC Andersen grew up, we have continued the granite paving from the surrounding historical Odense.

Granite, gravel and trimmed hedges are classic garden elements that allow integration with the cityscape, even if it is truly no ordinary garden.