Exhibition: Backstage

Architecture is omnipresent in everyday life; it is encountered every day. Architecture creates the framework for how people live their lives, move around and interact with others. Often one looks at the facade, but does not know the story behind it. From April 21 to October 3, 2021, the exhibition “Backstage” at the Danish Architecture Center shows which processes, steps, tools and ideas are behind the facades that surround us every day.

The Danes have an innate belief that they can always do things a little better, and that rubs off on Danish architecture. What’s at stake when we build the walls we all live within? What forces drive the development, what mistakes do we make along the way, and how do we rectify them?

The backstage of architecture

This exhibition encourages its visitors to look “behind the facade” of the architecture that surrounds us. It touches upon issues that engage neighborhoods and communities, but that also divide them.

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The exhibition focuses on central dilemmas of Danish architecture, but which affect most cities and communities around the world: Can we (still) afford to live in the city? How do we protect biodiversity? Is urban space primarily for the young? Is there any room for the vulnerable homeless? Are cities equipped to deal with climate change?

Moreover, another component of “looking behind the facade” are the tools that (Danish) architects, designers and urban planners use to shape the environment. Architecture does not start with the construction of an object, but much earlier. It is a long process. Therefore, the exhibition offers insights into the process of creating architecture and shows what thoughts are in the facades and what has remained of the ideas in the end, i.e. which ones have really been realized.

Who rewrites the architectural rules of play?

The exhibition takes the form of a theater stage with various backdrops, scenes and stories that can be viewed independently of each other, but which together make up a whole story.

Visitors are guided through five sets, each of which addresses a specific topic. Here the visitors meet award-winning Danish architectural firms and architects such as Jørn Utzon, Dorthe Mandrup, Bjarke Ingels and Jan Gehl, each of whom has helped rewrite the architectural rules of play.

Through showcases, photographs, 1:1 installations, architectural models, films and interactive elements, Backstage shows what distinguishes Danish architecture, what it means to people in their everyday lives, and asks how each individual can influence and shape their environment.

Architecture from the perspective of art

To provide perspective on the exhibition’s overriding theme, the internationally renowned visual artist John Kørner was invited to give his take on how architecture impacts us.

In his graphic series Understanding the Impact of Architecture (2014–2020), Kørner zooms in on architecture and its influence and impact. He does not offer solutions or answers, but instead presents the issues and invites us to reflect on them.

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Another current exhibition by the Danish Architecture Museum is “Hello Denmark”. Read the article here.