Located under Frederiksberg Hill in the heart of Søndermarken Park lies The Cisterns, a long forgotten subterranean reservoir, which functioned as Copenhagen’s fresh water supply until 1933 and could hold as much as 16 million litres of clean water. In 1996, the reservoir was turned into an exhibition space, and today, The Cisterns is an integral part of Frederiksberg Museums, working as a venue for art exhibitions and other events where the singularity of its architecture and atmosphere remains a core attraction.
The Cisterns is the only dripstone cave in Denmark. The natural formation of stalactites and stalagmites is not uncommon for concrete structures, yet nowhere else can offer the sheer magnitude and diversity of those found here. This makes the Cisterns anything but a regular gallery or art museum, and in 2017, a visit to The Cisterns is an extraordinary journey through an underground sea of light and darkness as the monumental halls have been modified by the internationally acknowledged Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi.
With his first major exhibition outside Japan, Sambuichi has scrutinized the depths of The Cisterns and the changing expression of the surrounding park, Søndermarken, through the changing seasons. The numerous investigations have taken form as a wondrous art installation, and once again, water fills the former water reservoir. In line with much of Sambuichi’s earlier work, the exhibition is only illuminated by the sun. The limited skylight from existing and sporadic openings in the ceiling is reflected with mirrors and shows the way along the passage of the sea and through the spaces.
When crossing the underground sea, visitors walk an interpretation of the Japanese Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Miyajima. The elegant wooden walkway features an inspiring meeting between Danish and Japanese design- and material traditions, as the construction is made of imported Japanese cedar and cypress, while the cladding is in solid Dinesen Douglas planks. All made in-situ by a team of eight master carpenters from Japan.
The exhibition is part of the official celebration of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Japan and runs until February 2018. The opening hours of the exhibition vary with the length of day. Stay updated on the changing opening hours at Cisternerne.dk/en.