The secrecy endures in Denmark's Cold War Museum, tucked deep inside the forest.

Curious for more?

Karsten Thorlund

Head of SLA Aarhus, Partner, Architect MAA


Rold Skov, Denmark


1,200 m2


2019 — 2023


Nordjyske Museer, Rebild Kommune, Aalborg Kommune, Realdania


Landscape Architect

Partners & Collaborators

AART, Kumulus, Niras

One of Denmark’s best-kept secrets is now open to the public, offering unique insights into the threat felt during the Cold War.

The museum’s main attraction is the intact Cold War bunker REGAN Vest, built in secret during the 1960s to house the government and reigning monarch in case of a nuclear war. In the event, the aim was to preserve Danish democracy for as long as possible.

The bunker has been a well-kept state secret for decades and is hidden 60 meters underground, beneath a limestone hill in Rold Forest. Inspired by the mystery surrounding the bunker, SLA, together with Aart Architects, Kumulus and Niras, has drawn the winning proposal for Denmark’s new Cold War Museum.

The 300-meter-long entrance tunnel
The overgrown entrance to the Cold War bunker

The new design fulfills the ambitions of creating a sensuous experience beyond the ordinary. The experience starts in the accomplished landscape, which aims to reinforce and stage the secrecy and mystery prescribed by REGAN Vest’s history.

With a wide belt of forest plants, SLA’s landscape design shields the primary arrival square from the new exhibition building that takes the shape of four black boxes gently positioned in the landscape. Within a few years, when the new nature has taken its hold, you won’t immediately notice the partially submerged building, despite its volume.

“Landscape, building, and exhibition all come together and form the best basis and a pleasant framework for the serious theme that the museum illuminates.”

— Lars Christian Nørbach, Managing Director of Nordjyske Museer

You reach the museum via meandering paths, partially submerged and hidden in the landscape. They naturally connect visitors to the existing paths of Rold Forest and are covered with matching gravel to integrate the exhibition building into the landscape.

SLA has designed the lighting to adapt to the dark context; it is kept at a low height, and the light level is low and functions as an orientational layer to reduce the contrast to the unlit landscape around REGAN Vest. At the same time, the lighting has been designed to minimize the negative effects on animals living in the forest.

Learn more about what you can experience at the museum here.


Come explore the fundamentals of our office together with us

fund. 19

Essay: The Bark Room

“Bark is both living and dead, growing and cracking, a shell, a protective layer and an integral part of the wood’s tissue. It’s the bark structure and the way it peels, which separates the different…

Read more

fund. 26


“Sound. The soundtrack of our lives often passes us by without us noticing. But I have begun noticing the poetry of the noises around me. The rhythm and the song of the poet. The calling…

Read more

fund. 12


Mist is a phenomenon caused by small droplets of water suspended in air. Physically, it is an example of a dispersion. It is most commonly seen where warm, moist air meets sudden cooling, such as…

Read more

fund. 27


“In the beginning was chaos. While the universe began to expand after Big Bang it also decreased in temperature. It became more and more ordered. With that order, the Universe changed its background colour toward…

Read more

fund. 25


“A tree consists of three parts: Its foliage, its trunk, and its roots. All three parts are important for the aesthetic feeling of nature. But of these three I find the roots most intriguing, most…

Read more

fund. 26


“Atmosphere is a thin film of enclosure around our world. Without our vaporous, water filled atmosphere, life on Earth – or indeed life anywhere – would not exist. But atmosphere is also what you sense…

Read more

fund. 20

– The Book of Garden

Sakuteki – The Book of Garden is a manual, a textbook for Japanese gardeners in the 11th century. This introduction sounds like this: “In making the garden, you should first understand the overall principles. According…

Read more