architect: PLH Arkitekter

location: Trelleborg, Denmark

year: 2016

The proposal ’The Lost Shield’ by team PLH Arkitekter, has won first prize in the competition for a new experience and knowledge centre at the site of the Danish Viking monument “Trelleborg”. It will be a new landmark for Slagelse municipality and a cultural destination that brings to life the dramatic and combative history of the Viking Age through site-centred narrative storytelling. The visitor centre’s design was inspired by Denmark’s only preserved Viking shield, which was discovered at Trelleborg. “…We have designed and placed the building as a ‘lost shield’ casually left on the edge of the forest”, says Søren Mølbak, partner at PLH.

The visitor centre lies sensitively placed in the landscape and, like a giant shield, skews upwards to offer fantastic views of its surroundings. While maintaining a respectful distance to Trelleborg, the building provides an excellent overview of the earthworks and landscape. Our aim has been to connect the past and present in a single gesture - linking communication, narrative and form in a very contemporary aesthetic. We’ve worked hard to bring the site to centre-stage; we’ve focused on the compelling nature of the place, with its story central to the architecture. The exhibition itself is structured as a narrative story following a Viking family.

We have recreated the Viking atmosphere with a gripping audio-visual universe of exhibition spaces, the crackling of the fireplace in the café, the tarred timber exterior cladding and the Viking sails decorating the facades”, explains Søren. From the moment the visitor approaches the building, it is to be sensuous experience where the boundary between exhibition and architecture, past and present becomes unclear. Trelleborg is one of Scandinavia’s most important Viking monuments and is expected to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The proposal has been developed in collaboration with ALL Atelier Lorentzen Langkilde, GHB Landscape Architects, MOE Consulting Engineers, GODdesign by exhibition architect Gert Olsen, film director Rumle Hammerich and art director Søren Buus. Slagelse municipality and the Danish National Museum have been responsible for the running of the completion Ny Trelleborg, for which we were prequalified in the summer of 2015. The museum’s vision is that “a visit to Trelleborg should not only be a good museum experience, but an experience for the senses, emotions and learning.” Ny Trelleborg has an area of approximately 2000m2 that includes a café, lobby, multifunctional lecture space, offices, meeting rooms, spaces for volunteers, a workshop and exhibition area.