The Velvet State Pavilion in Roskilde by SHJWORKS

Place: Roskilde, Denmark
Architectural design SHJWORKS
Architectural team:
Simon Hjermind Jensen, head of design and project leader
Christian Bøcker Sørensen, architect and site manager
Henri Käpynen, architectural and design assistant
Mads Bryd Sørensen, assisting site manager.
Images and text courtesy of Simon Hjermind Jensen
SHJWORKS Architectural team - Copenhagen


Copyright SHJWORKS – photo Lasse Ryberg.

Introduction by Federica Lusiardi, Inexhibit

The Velvet State pavilion, designed by the SHJWORKS team on the occasion of the  Roskilde Festival near Copenhagen, is an extremely interesting project for at least three reasons: the concept behind it, which is complex and fascinating at the same time (you can discover more about it by reading the full presentation by SHJWORKS just below); the creative, and technically audacious use of plywood; and the terrific appearance of this pavilion – a direct consequence of the ingeniousness and hard work of Simon Hjermind Jensen and all others members of SHJWORKS.

The Velvet State
text by SHJWORKS Architectural team

The Velvet State came up with the ambition to combine performance and architecture in a project at the Roskilde Festival 2013. The core of the project emerged via an ongoing dialogue between the performers and the architects, adopting and merging the two disciplines into one universe.
The performance explored the idea of a sensuous society – a possible society where the sensual and poetic perception of the world is at the center.
The physical structure covered an area of 794 square meters with the highest point of 7 meters. It consisted of seven parts, which together created one united structure that framed the performance and together with it formed a parallel universe.
The seven parts of the structure were The Ring, The Stage, The Ridge, The Reactor, The Barn, The Dressing Room, and The Courtyard. All parts were built in shells of plywood assembled with bolts and “sewings” in polycarbonate.


Copyright  SHJWORKS – photo Simon Hjermind Jensen.

Each part was designed over the same catenary curve as the section itself and consisted of a sequence of sections which were variations of this one curve. This way, every part became individual with its own appearance and spatial qualities, and at the same time, it was part of a greater whole.



Photos: left, Simon Hjermind Jensen;  right, Christian Bøcker Sørensen – Copyright  SHJWORKS.

The plywood shells acted both as a façade and as support for the structure. 12, 9, 6, and 4 mm thick plywood was used. The thick plywood was placed in the bottom and the thin in the top. Each plywood shell was bent into a singular curve and all together these curves created the structural support for the whole project.
The shells were fastened to a leveled base which was attached to the ground with one-meter-long earth spikes.
Part of the architectural unfolding was to investigate how variations of the same curve could create a rich spatial appearance. Also, the unfolding tested the structural concept and assembling methods on a large scale.
The performance acts are inspired by rituals and by anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep´s concept of liminality. This liminality was incorporated into the physical structure. The courtyard and thereby the inside of the structure was only accessible via three spaces. These spaces acted as thresholds and liminal spaces towards the performance.  Inside, the structure of the sensuous society was formed by 10 archetypes: The Bewinged, The Alchymist, The Dictator, The Killer, The Pink Narcissus, The Fetichist, The Critic, The Idealist, The Voyeur, and The Creature. The society was also inhabited by maintainers who maintained the archetypes and engaged the festival participants with the archetypes.


Copyright  SHJWORKS – photo Christian Bøcker Sørensen


Copyright  SHJWORKS – photos: on the left Lasse Ryberg; on the right Christian Bøcker Sørensen.

The stage was unconventional in the festival setting. The floor was only 30 cm tall and the stage was accessible from both sides. The guest performers at the stage could therefore easily maneuver towards the festival or towards the sensuous society.

The performance part was developed in a dialogue between Fiction Pimps (DK) and Collective Unconscious (UK), and directed by Inga Gerner Nielsen.



Phases of construction – Copyright  SHJWORKS

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