Museums
Josh Kirk

As the Home of Carlsberg reopens after a major five year revamp by Event, the project design lead shares the highs and lows of this unique project


The story of Carlsberg is explored at a new Copenhagen attraction, opened on 1 December 2023. The Home of Carlsberg reopened after a five year redesign led by experience design agency Event on the original Gamle Carlsberg brewery site founded in 1847.

The experience takes place across four floors in the former grainstore, maltery, boiler room and brewhouse buildings. The journey unfolds across ‘interconnected themed chapters’, where visitors explore the history of Carlsberg and its founders and learn about the brewing process and the science behind beer through hands-on games and interactives. The attraction also explores the Carlsberg Foundations’ roles in shaping Copenhagen’s cultural identity – almost 30 percent of Carlsberg’s global dividends are used to support projects in science, the arts and architecture in Denmark.

Notable features include a wall-to-wall display of more than 23,000 beer bottles, a huge interactive digital wall that showcases the work of the Carlsberg Foundations, opportunities to learn about the historic brewing equipment still in place within the brewery buildings and a chance to meet the brewery horses in the stables – up until the 1950s, Jutland horses were used to distribute Carlsberg beer across the country.

Visitor are given a Carlsberg wristband which they can use to interact with the displays, and where digital memories collected during the experience can be saved and downloaded when they get home.

Here Josh Kirk, associate director at Event, gives Attractions Management the lowdown on the project.

Why did the Home of Carlsberg need to be redesigned?
The previous exhibition and visitor experience was very of its time. It was heartfelt, and had a special place in locals’ hearts, but was really showing its age when we came on board five years ago. It felt dated, with a lot of very grainy films on small and low resolution screens, and so much text it was difficult to take it all in.

Above all, the incredible spaces of the brewery buildings just weren’t being used as well as they could have been. Whole floors of the brewery were closed off to the public, either due to difficulties in accessing them or simply because they’d been shut when brewing operations finished and never opened again. Some still had barley grain all over the floors.

What excited you about this project?
We spotted the incredible potential of the site the moment we stepped foot in the central courtyard on our first visit. Carlsberg has such a rich story to tell – from the enigmatic founders to its ground-breaking research lab and charitable foundations. Thinking about how to bring these stories to life within the heritage listed spaces was inspiring. I remember discussing the project with my colleagues over schnapps after that first site visit – our excitement was palpable.

How would you sum up the visitor experience now?
It’s a historic site and legacy story brought to life with cutting edge technology that creates a new home for a contemporary brand in the heart of Copenhagen’s most modern district.

It’s authentic and generous – somewhere visitors can be welcomed that doesn’t feel like a typical brand experience. It’s designed to feel like you’re stepping into someone’s home – it’s warm, friendly and intimate.

The Danes have a term for it: Hygge. Wanting to create somewhere that encapsulated the Danish sense of hygge was always at the forefront of our minds. Visitors get served a beer right at the start of their visit, and right at the end. It’s our hope that the beer visitors enjoy at the end of the tour will taste very different knowing everything that went into making it.

How has technology been used in innovative ways? 
Meshing a contemporary visitor experience into a heritage listed building has meant tech has to be deployed in some unusual and innovative ways.

We built a two storey LED matrix totem between four columns, all of which are wonky and different distances apart – that was certainly tricky. We also designed and developed a host of digital interactives that visitors can use to collect digital memories from on their RFID-enabled wristbands.

But the pinnacle in terms of the big technology-driven innovative design moments has got to be the Carlsberg Foundations space. Here, we installed a huge 2.5m-high by 17m-long interactive media wall, consisting of 12 vertically orientated ultra-wide throw projectors, so the film picture is rendered in immense pixel density and clarity. Working with our media and software partners ISO and OhLaLa, as well as overall fabricators Hypsos and AV hardware integrators Phantavision, we created a truly unique space where visitors’ movements trigger collections of films about the charitable endeavours of the Carlsberg Foundations.

Up to 12 people can interact with the wall at once, all watching different films and listening to different audio because of the overhead directional speakers. It creates a space where intimate focused moments can be had close to the wall, while by stepping back visitors can see the incredible reach of the foundations in this murmuring, frenetic visual space. At five minute intervals a seamless takeover film fills the entire length of the media wall, utilising the unique aspect ratio. It’s a technical marvel that required a huge amount of very skilled experts to realise.

What were the biggest challenges of this project?
Telling the Carlsberg story was a big challenge. Not only is Carlsberg one of the world’s biggest beer brands with all the complexities of representing a mega brand in terms of sticking to strict guidelines on visual identity and tone of voice, but it’s also ingrained in the fabric of Danish society. If you get parts of the story wrong, or tell it in the wrong way, you’re going to have a lot of very passionate people telling you so.

Many a conversation was had with locals we met over a beer around the site on visits to the Carlsberg District. Their insights into how Carlsberg is lived as a part of Copenhagen culture was invaluable to shaping the experience.

The other big challenge was the building and site itself. A heritage listed site, the buildings are rightfully afforded very strict protections over their alteration and treatment. Mapping a visitor route through the various parts of the brewery that missed pipes jutting out at eye level ready to impale unsuspecting tourists, and wouldn’t leave visitors utterly bewildered as to where they were meant to go next was a serious undertaking. Even finding suitably level floor surface locations for the beautiful custom built showcases Meyveart designed for the project was a challenge.

Multiple iterations were created – each new version finding some novel way to open up a new entry or exit point from a room or utilise a hidden stair to bring visitors in and out of a new space safely.

Do you have a personal favourite part of the attraction?
I love the small details that perhaps only a fraction of visitors will notice, but for those that do, it’s like a little reward for paying extra close attention.

Some of my favourites include the little hop leaf cut outs on the stainless steel containers that house the aroma flasks in the science lab, and the hidden symbolism in the illustrations telling the story of JC Jacobsen first establishing the brewery in the Pioneers space. In the same room there’s a gorgeous installation illustrating Carlsberg’s ‘Golden Words’ – the founding principles of Carlsberg – via suspended golden lettering, gorgeously lit by our lighting design partners Nulty. The initials of the Event team members who worked on the project are hidden in that installation among the collection of floating letters. That one’s just for us.

I also couldn’t possibly cover favourite parts of the experience without mentioning the Carlsberg horse – they win everyone’s hearts.

What’s Event working on next?
We’ve got almost too many things in the pipeline to count at the moment. Half the team who worked on the Home of Carlsberg are building on our drinks brand experience with two potential projects in Vietnam – another brewery experience and a winery. Meanwhile the other half of the core team members from Carlsberg have moved a few miles down the road to tackle the Danish Museum of Natural History.

What trends are you seeing in your work?
The cross pollination of creative ideas from the museum to brand worlds and vice versa is a growing trend. Brands are looking to showcase themselves and their stories in more authentic ways by creating experiences with depth, honesty, and integrity. Museums, meanwhile, are looking to radically modernise their offerings in a shifting cultural zeitgeist where new generations expect personalised interactive experiences and big bold stories, so looking to leading brands seems natural.

Event sits at the cross-section of this fascinating interplay, working as a cultural catalyst across both sectors.

Natural History Museum of Denmark

Set to be completed in 2025, the Natural History Museum of Denmark’s new museum building represents one of the biggest recent museum constructions in Denmark. Costing DKK 212.5 million – funded by the AP Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation – the project combines the Zoological Museum at Østerbro and the museum building on Øster Voldgade 5-7 into a top-class museum.

Located within Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden, the new building has been designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter, with substantial parts of the museum space located underground in order to keep the listed Botanical Gardens intact.

In July 2023, Event was selected by the Natural History Museum of Denmark to realise the designs for all of the galleries in the new building.

Event will work with two Danish companies on the project: technologists Stouenborg and sustainability engineers Steensen Varming.

“The museum’s collections contain 14 million natural history objects collected worldwide over almost 400 years,” said a spokesperson for the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

“When the new museum building opens its doors to the public in a couple of years, it will be in a new beautiful setting, where the story of the origin and spread of life can really unfold.”

The museum tells the story of Carlsberg across four floors in a historic setting Credit: photo: Daniel Rasmussen
The heritage listed site was full of challenges for the exhibition design team Credit: photo: Daniel Rasmussen
Credit: photo: Daniel Rasmussen
Credit: photo: Daniel Rasmussen
Credit: photo: Daniel Rasmussen
An interactive digital wall is used to bring alive the story of the Carlsberg Foundations Credit: photo: Daniel Rasmussen
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Attractions Management
2024 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Josh Kirk

Museums

Josh Kirk


As the Home of Carlsberg reopens after a major five year revamp by Event, the project design lead shares the highs and lows of this unique project

Josh Kirk, associate director at Event Photo: Event
The museum tells the story of Carlsberg across four floors in a historic setting photo: Daniel Rasmussen
The heritage listed site was full of challenges for the exhibition design team photo: Daniel Rasmussen
photo: Daniel Rasmussen
photo: Daniel Rasmussen
photo: Daniel Rasmussen
An interactive digital wall is used to bring alive the story of the Carlsberg Foundations photo: Daniel Rasmussen

The story of Carlsberg is explored at a new Copenhagen attraction, opened on 1 December 2023. The Home of Carlsberg reopened after a five year redesign led by experience design agency Event on the original Gamle Carlsberg brewery site founded in 1847.

The experience takes place across four floors in the former grainstore, maltery, boiler room and brewhouse buildings. The journey unfolds across ‘interconnected themed chapters’, where visitors explore the history of Carlsberg and its founders and learn about the brewing process and the science behind beer through hands-on games and interactives. The attraction also explores the Carlsberg Foundations’ roles in shaping Copenhagen’s cultural identity – almost 30 percent of Carlsberg’s global dividends are used to support projects in science, the arts and architecture in Denmark.

Notable features include a wall-to-wall display of more than 23,000 beer bottles, a huge interactive digital wall that showcases the work of the Carlsberg Foundations, opportunities to learn about the historic brewing equipment still in place within the brewery buildings and a chance to meet the brewery horses in the stables – up until the 1950s, Jutland horses were used to distribute Carlsberg beer across the country.

Visitor are given a Carlsberg wristband which they can use to interact with the displays, and where digital memories collected during the experience can be saved and downloaded when they get home.

Here Josh Kirk, associate director at Event, gives Attractions Management the lowdown on the project.

Why did the Home of Carlsberg need to be redesigned?
The previous exhibition and visitor experience was very of its time. It was heartfelt, and had a special place in locals’ hearts, but was really showing its age when we came on board five years ago. It felt dated, with a lot of very grainy films on small and low resolution screens, and so much text it was difficult to take it all in.

Above all, the incredible spaces of the brewery buildings just weren’t being used as well as they could have been. Whole floors of the brewery were closed off to the public, either due to difficulties in accessing them or simply because they’d been shut when brewing operations finished and never opened again. Some still had barley grain all over the floors.

What excited you about this project?
We spotted the incredible potential of the site the moment we stepped foot in the central courtyard on our first visit. Carlsberg has such a rich story to tell – from the enigmatic founders to its ground-breaking research lab and charitable foundations. Thinking about how to bring these stories to life within the heritage listed spaces was inspiring. I remember discussing the project with my colleagues over schnapps after that first site visit – our excitement was palpable.

How would you sum up the visitor experience now?
It’s a historic site and legacy story brought to life with cutting edge technology that creates a new home for a contemporary brand in the heart of Copenhagen’s most modern district.

It’s authentic and generous – somewhere visitors can be welcomed that doesn’t feel like a typical brand experience. It’s designed to feel like you’re stepping into someone’s home – it’s warm, friendly and intimate.

The Danes have a term for it: Hygge. Wanting to create somewhere that encapsulated the Danish sense of hygge was always at the forefront of our minds. Visitors get served a beer right at the start of their visit, and right at the end. It’s our hope that the beer visitors enjoy at the end of the tour will taste very different knowing everything that went into making it.

How has technology been used in innovative ways? 
Meshing a contemporary visitor experience into a heritage listed building has meant tech has to be deployed in some unusual and innovative ways.

We built a two storey LED matrix totem between four columns, all of which are wonky and different distances apart – that was certainly tricky. We also designed and developed a host of digital interactives that visitors can use to collect digital memories from on their RFID-enabled wristbands.

But the pinnacle in terms of the big technology-driven innovative design moments has got to be the Carlsberg Foundations space. Here, we installed a huge 2.5m-high by 17m-long interactive media wall, consisting of 12 vertically orientated ultra-wide throw projectors, so the film picture is rendered in immense pixel density and clarity. Working with our media and software partners ISO and OhLaLa, as well as overall fabricators Hypsos and AV hardware integrators Phantavision, we created a truly unique space where visitors’ movements trigger collections of films about the charitable endeavours of the Carlsberg Foundations.

Up to 12 people can interact with the wall at once, all watching different films and listening to different audio because of the overhead directional speakers. It creates a space where intimate focused moments can be had close to the wall, while by stepping back visitors can see the incredible reach of the foundations in this murmuring, frenetic visual space. At five minute intervals a seamless takeover film fills the entire length of the media wall, utilising the unique aspect ratio. It’s a technical marvel that required a huge amount of very skilled experts to realise.

What were the biggest challenges of this project?
Telling the Carlsberg story was a big challenge. Not only is Carlsberg one of the world’s biggest beer brands with all the complexities of representing a mega brand in terms of sticking to strict guidelines on visual identity and tone of voice, but it’s also ingrained in the fabric of Danish society. If you get parts of the story wrong, or tell it in the wrong way, you’re going to have a lot of very passionate people telling you so.

Many a conversation was had with locals we met over a beer around the site on visits to the Carlsberg District. Their insights into how Carlsberg is lived as a part of Copenhagen culture was invaluable to shaping the experience.

The other big challenge was the building and site itself. A heritage listed site, the buildings are rightfully afforded very strict protections over their alteration and treatment. Mapping a visitor route through the various parts of the brewery that missed pipes jutting out at eye level ready to impale unsuspecting tourists, and wouldn’t leave visitors utterly bewildered as to where they were meant to go next was a serious undertaking. Even finding suitably level floor surface locations for the beautiful custom built showcases Meyveart designed for the project was a challenge.

Multiple iterations were created – each new version finding some novel way to open up a new entry or exit point from a room or utilise a hidden stair to bring visitors in and out of a new space safely.

Do you have a personal favourite part of the attraction?
I love the small details that perhaps only a fraction of visitors will notice, but for those that do, it’s like a little reward for paying extra close attention.

Some of my favourites include the little hop leaf cut outs on the stainless steel containers that house the aroma flasks in the science lab, and the hidden symbolism in the illustrations telling the story of JC Jacobsen first establishing the brewery in the Pioneers space. In the same room there’s a gorgeous installation illustrating Carlsberg’s ‘Golden Words’ – the founding principles of Carlsberg – via suspended golden lettering, gorgeously lit by our lighting design partners Nulty. The initials of the Event team members who worked on the project are hidden in that installation among the collection of floating letters. That one’s just for us.

I also couldn’t possibly cover favourite parts of the experience without mentioning the Carlsberg horse – they win everyone’s hearts.

What’s Event working on next?
We’ve got almost too many things in the pipeline to count at the moment. Half the team who worked on the Home of Carlsberg are building on our drinks brand experience with two potential projects in Vietnam – another brewery experience and a winery. Meanwhile the other half of the core team members from Carlsberg have moved a few miles down the road to tackle the Danish Museum of Natural History.

What trends are you seeing in your work?
The cross pollination of creative ideas from the museum to brand worlds and vice versa is a growing trend. Brands are looking to showcase themselves and their stories in more authentic ways by creating experiences with depth, honesty, and integrity. Museums, meanwhile, are looking to radically modernise their offerings in a shifting cultural zeitgeist where new generations expect personalised interactive experiences and big bold stories, so looking to leading brands seems natural.

Event sits at the cross-section of this fascinating interplay, working as a cultural catalyst across both sectors.

Natural History Museum of Denmark

Set to be completed in 2025, the Natural History Museum of Denmark’s new museum building represents one of the biggest recent museum constructions in Denmark. Costing DKK 212.5 million – funded by the AP Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation – the project combines the Zoological Museum at Østerbro and the museum building on Øster Voldgade 5-7 into a top-class museum.

Located within Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden, the new building has been designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter, with substantial parts of the museum space located underground in order to keep the listed Botanical Gardens intact.

In July 2023, Event was selected by the Natural History Museum of Denmark to realise the designs for all of the galleries in the new building.

Event will work with two Danish companies on the project: technologists Stouenborg and sustainability engineers Steensen Varming.

“The museum’s collections contain 14 million natural history objects collected worldwide over almost 400 years,” said a spokesperson for the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

“When the new museum building opens its doors to the public in a couple of years, it will be in a new beautiful setting, where the story of the origin and spread of life can really unfold.”


Originally published in Attractions Management 2024 issue 1

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