The new ski slope-shaped roof of the Mariehøj Culture Centre in Holte, Denmark is a bold architectural gesture given its suburban surroundings. Arching over the Centre's existing pitched-roof building, before curving out and downwards across two levels, the new timber and perforated metal roof functions as a welcoming archway, a pathway and an amphitheatre all at once.
Designed by young Danish studios WE ARCHITECTURE and Sophus Søbye Architects, who won the project in a competition back in 2010, the new design seeks to better connect the various different areas and levels of the existing Culture Centre.
As a result of being set up within four former school buildings that date from 1924–1978, the Mariehøj Culture Centre previously suffered from a slightly ad-hoc and confusing layout. In response to this, WE Architecture and Sophus Søbye designed a series of interventions and new additions that create a seamless flow between the foyer, plaza and green spaces while also creating 800 sq m of new space.
‘We wanted to connect the entrance with the garden below while creating an amphitheatre for events,’ explain WE Architecture founders Marc Jay and Julie Schmidt-Nielsen, of their sweeping roof design. ‘In that way, the roof could function as a bridge connecting these two levels.’
Inside the new foyer, visitors are met by a bright double height space with a double staircase to the right that descends to the ground floor. Beneath the building's dramatic roof is a glass-walled cafe that looks out across beech trees to the east and a courtyard to the west.
To the right of the new entrance, an area of wooden decking wraps around the side of the building. Here, the sloping roof turns into a wooden staircase that functions as the amphitheatre, before levelling out into a flat social space with seating. From here visitors can access the ground floor of the centre and the green spaces beyond.