Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

The new Refugee Museum of Denmark, FLUGT, designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and exhibition designers Tinker Imagineers is officially inaugurated in the presence of Queen Margrethe II. Located at the site of Denmark’s largest Refugee camp from World War II, FLUGT, gives a voice and a face to refugees worldwide and captures the universal challenges, emotions, spirit and stories shared by displaced humans.

Following the opening of Tirpitz Museum on the west coast of Denmark, FLUGT is BIG’s second museum for Vardemuseerne: a local institution dedicated to archaeology, dissemination, and collection of historical knowledge about the region. In close collaboration with engineers, Ingeniør’ne and exhibition designers, Tinker Imagineers, BIG has adapted and extended one of the camp’s few remaining structures - a hospital building - into a 1,600 m2 museum.

“FLUGT - Refugee Museum of Denmark will share and uncover the stories of the largest refugee camp in Denmark as well as the story of the lived refugee experience of our time. FLUGT seeks to give a voice and a face to humans who have been forced to flee their homes and capture the universal challenges, emotions and nuances shared by refugees then and today,” Claus Kjeld Jensen, Museum Director

At its peak, the camp became the fifth-largest city of Denmark at the time. Today, little of the camp in Oksbøl remains, but the story of arriving at the doorstep of a new country is as relevant as ever. The former hospital, which is transformed into FLUGT, is comprised of two long buildings. BIG has connected the two buildings architecturally and historically by adding a soft curve-shaped volume which brings 500 m2 of additional space to the museum and creates a welcoming structure, visible from afar.

The curve is gently pulled towards the street to create an inviting arrival moment for the museum visitors. Clad in Corten steel, the structure feels at home along the red bricks of the former hospital buildings. From outside, the abstract volume welcomes visitors into what appears to be a closed entry hall. Upon entering, a floor-to-ceiling curved glass wall reveals a view of a sheltered green courtyard and the forest, where the refugee camp used to be. The courtyard lets light flow into the entry hall that functions as a lobby or a temporary exhibition space for guests to experience before continuing their journey into one of the museum wings.

“The Refugee Museum of Denmark explores an important part of our history and a theme that is more relevant than ever, with millions of refugees currently displaced from their homes. We have designed an architectural framework that connects the past with the present - with a new building directly shaped by its relationship to the historic hospital buildings of the WWII refugee camp. We went into this project with all our heart to address one of the world’s greatest challenges – how we welcome and care for our fellow world citizens when they are forced to flee. The project is a continuation of our collaboration on Tirpitz museum with Vardemuseerne and Claus Kjeld Jensen whose uncompromised design vision once again inspired our design for FLUGT.” Founding Partner, Bjarke Ingels, BIG.

The exhibition area in the north wing contains gallery spaces organized according to the original flow/circulation in the hospital. While most of the hospital room walls were torn down, some of the inside walls are kept intact and stabilized by three cross sections, creating larger exhibition spaces. The south wing features a flexible conference room, smaller exhibition spaces, cafe, and back of house functions with the same character and materiality as in the north wing: white walls and intersections covered in white painted wood boards oriented according to the angle ceiling line, as well as yellow bricks across the entire museum floor, connecting past and present structures.

In addition to preserving and reusing the hospital buildings for historical value, extending the lifespan of the existing structures supports BIG’s mission of reducing waste, conserving resources, and creating a smaller carbon footprint as it relates to materials manufacturing and transport.

“From the very beginning of the design process, it was vital for us and our client Vardemuseerne to preserve the two hospital buildings. The buildings are some of the last remaining physical manifestations of the former refugee camp, and not only is their preservation invaluable for future generations to understand the past and the present, the buildings also directly informed our design of the extension by means of their unique elongated form, structure and materiality. FLUGT is a great example of how adaptive reuse can result in sustainable, functional buildings that preserve our shared history while standing out architecturally.” Project Leader, Frederik Lyng, BIG.

The courtyard designed by BIG Landscape creates a peaceful sensory experience inside the museum as well as outside. A small mirror pool in the heart of the courtyard reflects the sky above it. Around the basin, heath planting known from the region emphasizes the identity of the area. Visitors leave the museum having experienced a part of an important place in Danish history, with a new perspective on the refugee experience.

Design team:

Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Ole Elkjær-Larsen, Finn Nørkjær
Project Leader: Frederik Lyng
Project Architect: Frederik Skou Jensen

BIG Team: Ákos Márk Horváth, Anders Holden Deleuran, Andy Coward, Anne Søby Nielsen, Cheng-Huang Lin, Danyu Zeng, David Zahle, Eddie Chiu Fai Can, Gabrielé Ubareviciute, Hanne Halvorsen, Høgni Laksafoss, Laura Wätte, Katrine Juul, Kim Lauer, Lone Fenger Albrechtsen, Lukas Molter, Mads Primdahl Rokkjær, Marius Tromholt-Richter, Michael James Kepke, Muhammad Mansoor-Awais, Nanna Gyldholm Møller, Nikolaos Romanos Tsokas, Oliver Siekierka, Peter Mortensen, Richard Garth Howis, Sascha Leth Rasmussen, Sofiia Rokmaniko, Tore Banke, Thor Larsen-Lechuga, Tomas Karl Ramstrand, Toni Mateu, Tristan Robert Harvey

BIG Landscape: Anne Katrine Sandstrøm, Barbora Hrmova, Giulia Frittoli, Jonathan Udemezue, Kristian Mousten, Ulla Hornsyld

Collaborators: Ingeniør’ne, Tinker Imagineers, BIG Landscape, BIG Ideas, Gade & Mortensen

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshoj

FLUGT Refugee Museum of Denmark by BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group | Museums ×

Other related profiles