ROSKILDE – The Roskilde Festival has been doing things somewhat differently ever since its inception in 1971. Despite being recognized as the largest event of its kind in Northern Europe, it remains a not-for-profit event run by a foundation that supports the ‘development and support of music, culture and humanism’ and shuns rampant commercialism.
The festival’s altruistic roots bear fruit in Rockmagneten, three buildings in the city of Roskilde’s new Musicon district intended to provide a balance of education and entertainment: Folk High School, Group HQ and Ragnarock Museum. The last of these was the first to open. Like the forthcoming parts of the trilogy, it owes its design to MVRDV and COBE, architecture firms from the and Denmark, respectively. But rather than an opening act shoved ignominiously on stage, Ragnarock is the headliner that will set the tone for its yet uncompleted siblings.
Situated between the city centre and the festival grounds, the museum was constructed in and around an old concrete factory being used by skaters, artists and musicians. As these groups are the lifeblood of youth culture (and of rock’n’roll), parts of the old buildings remain available for skating and band practice, making sure that Ragnarock is what Dan Stubbergaard, COBE’s creative director, calls ‘a museum for everyone’.
The tension between the roots of rock and its future is immediately visible on the exterior, which is a veritable sea of golden facets, or ‘studs’, like those that adorn the leather jacket of every self-respecting rocker. The geometric pattern returns inside in various forms, from lighting to panelled walls and ceilings. A subtler reference to the life of a musician is in the cloakroom, where coats are hung on lighting-rig pulleys.
The red carpet leading to the entrance ought to make every visitor feel like a star. On a more practical level, Ragnarock offers nearly everything an aspiring musician needs for a successful career, including a stage and a recording studio. If the bands lining up to perform at Ragnarock don’t waste too much time at the bar, we may see them pulling in fans at the festival in a year or two.
Photos Rasmus Hjortshøj (Coast), courtesy of COBE and MVRDV