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fri 3 jun 2016 - sun 19 nov 2017


Menagerie: The Moth House

Gl. Holtegaard’s distinctive architecture and dramatic Baroque-style formal gardens form the basis and backdrop for the exhibition series Pavilion at Gl. Holtegaard. Over the course of three years, three temporary pavilions will be erected in the garden. Architects have been invited to submit proposals on the themes of Orangery (2015), Menagerie (2016) and Scenery (2017), creating new, temporary pavilions where history and our immediate present, the old and the new can meet and shed light on each other.

In November 2015 Gl. Holtegaard, working in co-operation with the Danish Association of Architects and the Danish Art Foundation’s Committee for Architecture Grants and Project Funding, launched an open call for proposals for the second of the three pavilions. The theme of the competition was “Menagerie” – a space made for exotic animals – and participating architects were free to decide what animals they wished to house in their pavilions, and indeed how they wanted to interpret the subject of “animals”. The jury comprised Jens Ive, mayor of the Municipality of Rudersdal; Peter Kirkhoff Eriksen, MA in art history and former acting director of Gl. Holtegaard; Torben Schønherr, landscape architect MAA, MDL and Søren Leth, architect MAA (both as representatives for the Danish Art Foundation’s Committee for Architecture Grants and Project Funding); and Christian Hanak, architect MAA, representing the board of the Danish Association of Architects.

The winner was the young architect Jonathan Meldgaard Houser, who chose to create a house for moths. His pavilion beautifully merges history with our present day as the subtle tension between light and darkness meets the fierce energy of movement in Menagerie: Moth House, which was officially opened on 3 June.

Dark, folded, felt-covered walls form the setting of the 8.5 metre tall pavilion for moths, which takes its point of departure in the moth’s metamorphosis. On the one hand the house is a closed receptacle for moths, protecting them in darkness during the day. On the other hand the house is also an open trap, using light to lure in moths at night. At night the doors are opened, and artificial light from the pavilion attracts the moths. At day the doors are closed, yet regularly opened by visitors as the step into the darkness inside.

In this work, the dramatic tension between light and darkness seen in Baroque art and the era’s fascination with dynamic movement has been reinterpreted and given contemporary form. The moth house is inspired by Baroque art such as Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1647–1652) and the hourglass symbols typical of the period’s so-called vanitas still lifes. In its choice of materials and its sober, stringent form the pavilion draws inspiration from modernist architecture.

The moth house enters into interplay with the Baroque complex, the main building, and the Orangery pavilion from 2015. With its folded, felt-covered walls the moth house introduces a labyrinthine darkness to the Baroque garden, offering a distinctive contrast to the light-filled, skyward-gazing space of the Orangery. The monumental size of both pavilions prompts a shift and change in the well-established order of the Baroque garden, creating a poetic, sensuous meeting of past and present.
About the architect
Jonathan Meldgaard Houser, b. 1986, graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation in 2014. In addition to his pavilion project at Gl. Holtegaard, Meldgaard Houser is also featured at the international biennial of architecture in Venice 2016. When not creating projects under his own name, Meldgaard Houser works at the architectural firm Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter and teaches at the Institute of Architecture and Culture in Copenhagen.


The project is funded by the Danish Art Foundation’s Committee for Architecture Grants and Project Funding, the Danish Art Foundation’s Committee for Visual Art Project Funding, and The Obel Family Foundation.
With thanks to the Danish Association of Architects, consulting engineer Henrik Almegaard, Ole Vanggaard, Eskild Pontoppidan and contractor Juul & Nielsen.

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