Dorte Mandrup's whale observatory will breach from the rugged Arctic landscape

Right here on the edge of the ocean, we will be making a mark in a magnificent and ancient landscape. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility, which is extremely motivating and inspiring.
– Dorte Mandrup

Dorte Mandrup and her studio have won a competition to design an attraction dedicated to whales that will rise organically out of the ground and merge with the surrounding landscape.

Called The Whale, it will be located 300km (186mi) north of the Arctic Circle on the northernmost part of Andøya island in Andenes, Norway.

The area is regarded as one of the best places in the world for whale-watching and the building is designed as a venue for that.

It will also tell the story of whales and provide a venue for related events, with exhibition spaces, offices, a café and a shop.

It was designed with the aim of blending with and augmenting the rugged terrain and dramatic coastline.

The roof, a single curved concrete shell, will rise gently from the ground and fall back into it, not dissimilar the back of a whale as it breaks the water's surface.

The parabolic form will be self-supporting, allowing for a large, column-free space beneath.

It will be paved with stones that match the terrain and strengthen the building's blended connection with the landscape.

Visitors will be able to walk up onto the roof, from where they'll have views out to sea to spot whales, as well as of the nearby mountains and ocean, the midnight sun and the northern lights.

Large windows will also provide views from inside the building while allowing the design to remain in harmony with its context.

Dorte Mandrup said: "Located this far North, Andøya is a unique place and The Whale an extraordinary project. Not only will we be creating architecture in yet another remarkable landscape, but we will also take part in increasing the understanding of whales and preservation of marine life.

"Right here on the edge of the ocean, we will be making a mark in a magnificent and ancient landscape. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility, which is extremely motivating and inspiring."

The design was developed in collaboration with Marianne Levinsen Landskab, JAC Studio, Thornton Tomasetti, AT Plan & Arkitektur, Nils Øien and Anders Kold.

The team saw off competition from firms including Snøhetta and Bjarke Ingels Group, with the attraction expected to open in 2022.

Dorte Mandrup  Norway 
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company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
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