Lonely Planet Writer

See a subterranean exhibition of water and light beneath Copenhagen

A beautiful art exhibition inspired by the natural world is currently on display in The Cisterns, a unique art venue located within the former water reservoir buried deep beneath Søndermarken park in Copenhagen.

Hiroshi Sambuichi's installation, "The Water" in Copenhagen.
Hiroshi Sambuichi’s installation, “The Water” in Copenhagen. Image by Rasmus Hjortshøj / COAST

Located just across from Frederiksberg Castle, the space was once filled with 16 million litres of drinking water for the city, but has since become a place for art exhibitions and various events. The Cisterns is currently playing host to The Water, a show created by Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi in his first major international exhibition. On display until 2 February 2018, the show is described as a journey through an underground sea of light and darkness.

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In The Water, Sambuichi uses details of natural phenomena from nature as building materials. It sees water once again filling the chambers of The Cisterns, with natural daylight also being used, reaching plants designed to grow in conditions rich in carbon dioxide. The opening hours of the exhibition are also governed by the natural world, with the length of each day depending on the season. During winter, the exhibition will close as the sun sets at 3pm, while it stays open until as late as 8pm during the brighter summer months.

When crossing the underground sea, visitors walk across a bridge made from imported cedar and cypress wood to an interpretation of the Japanese Itsukushima Shrine from the island of Miyajima.

“It was an almost magical encounter when we invited Sambuichi to see The Cisterns in 2015. The various characteristics of it that could be considered problematic – the constant flow of water, the extremely high humidity level, the 17 seconds of echo and the absence of daylight – were to Sambuichi, the best possible starting point for a project. He immediately understood the unique character of the place,” said Director of The Frederiksberg Museum, Astrid la Cour.

A bridge made from Japanese wood to an interpretation of the Itsukushima Shrine at Sambuichi's The Water in Copenhagen
The exhibition features a bridge to an interpretation of the Itsukushima Shrine. Image by Rasmus Hjortshøj / COAST

The exhibition is part of the official celebration in 2017 of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Japan.

More information on visiting the exhibition is available on The Cisternerne website.