Skjern River Pump Stations
Skjern River Pump Stations
The project is a conversion of three pump stations originally constructed in the late 1960s in connection with the large land reclamation project where Skjern River was straightened out. A large number of environmental problems were associated with this alignment of the river, leading to the river being restored to its original run in 2002. In this way a vast and rich natural area reappeared with many visitors.
The original pump stations contained underground water chambers, large halls for the pumps, storage rooms and high voltage rooms. The original pumps in the pump hall was essentially taken out of operation and there has been established a new type of pumps located in the underground water chambers. In this way, the upper part of the building was no longer in use. A framework for the new life of the area has been provided with the rebuilding and extension of the over ground parts of the three pump stations, in the form of exhibition spaces, indoor and outdoor viewpoints to look out over the landscape, rooms for different kinds of events, and accessibility for disabled.
The original pump stations was engineered to be unsentimental and raw in their materiality, and the vertical relief of the concrete façades reminds us of the surrounding ploughed furrows of the fields, and profiles of the soil that control the run of the river. In the conversion of the three pump stations the aim has been that the individual pump stations would still appear as a united whole, to challenge their massive and heavy character and enhance their figure in the landscape, and to add a human scale and materiality.
The project exemplifies how the transformation of ”the negative heritage” can fill the purpose of mediating between a repressed past and contemporary life.
Generally, the original pump stations are detailed alike but different in size and shape. In the same way the new additions to the three pump stations are both the same and different. The extensions and the new interior building elements are mainly simple wooden constructions and reiterate the dimensions and rhythm of the original pump stations’ concrete relief. This creates a direct link between the old structure and the new, while adding a new material and another texture that is pleasing to the touch. With this detail, the cladding and the main structure become one, reducing the complexity of the building, which is reflected in the budget as well as the final expression.
Using wood with a natural high pressure treatment both avoiding the use of chemicals and protecting even the hearthwood against decay, has allowed for the extensions to be constructed and fitted on site without the use of additional materials to cover the end grain, and provided a very low maintenance solution in the harsh environment close by the north sea.