Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter win competition to design vistor centre at UNESCO-protected Greenland glacier

by Tom Anstey | 23 Jun 2016

Danish architectural firm Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter have unveiled designs for an arctic visitor attraction designed to draw visitors to Greenland.

The proposed Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat – a town in the Qaasuitsup municipality in western Greenland – will help develop Greenland’s tourism and will demonstrate the history and culture of the ice fjord, as well as highlighting the dramatic melting of the UNESCO-protected Greenland ice sheet.

Scheduled to open in Q3 2020, the development is designed to have a minimal impact on the surrounding landscape and is a collaboration between the Greenland Government, Qaasuitsup Municipality and philanthropic organisation Realdania.

Dorte Mandrup’s winning design stretches across the landscape, resembling “the flight of a snowy owl”, according to the architect. Part of the existing hiking trail, the building offers views of the ice fjord and surrounding landscape. Designed to be integrated with the surrounding landscape, the open facade of the building creates “dialogue between man and nature.”

A wooden framework designed as a truss bridges the rugged landscape, curving out over the edge of the Sermermiut Valley and creating a series of stirring viewpoints. A gently sloping boardwalk crosses the building’s roof, becoming the starting point for a World Heritage Trail and forming a gathering point, viewing platform and informal seating area.

“We selected the proposal from Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter as the winning project because it is a very poetic and visionary project with an architectural unity that underpins the overall vision beautifully,” said Jan Søndergård, spokesperson for the selection panel and partner of KHR arkitekter. “The new building will streamline smoothly with the spectacular natural landscape.”

Snøhetta, Kengo Kuma and Associates and Rintala Eggertsson Architects were among the other shortlisted firms in the running to design the project.

The Icefjord Centre is expected to draw 25,000 visitors annually. The philanthropic association Realdania is contributing DKR83m (US$12.6m, €11.2m, £8.6m) to the project, while DKR15m (US$2.3m, €2m, £1.6m) is coming from the Government of Greenland and DKR8m (US$1.2m, €1.1m, £827,000) is from Qaasuitsup Municipality.

"We selected the proposal from Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter as the winning project because it is a very poetic and visionary project with an architectural unity that underpins the overall vision beautifully"

The developers are seeking further donations of DKR10m (US$1.5m, €1.3m, £1m) to fund exhibitions and activities inside the centre. Charitable international foundations Bloomberg Philanthropies and the OAK Foundation have each made unspecified donations. According to representatives of the centre in the long run the visitor attraction will be self-sustaining, financed by its own revenues.

According to the Greenland’s tourism strategy, the centre is the first of five such visitor centres, which will be used in efforts to drive increased tourism in the country. The Icefjord Centre will also serve as a gathering point and activity centre for the local community.

“Promoting tourism is high on the government agenda,” said Vittus Qujaukitsoq, minister for Industry, Labour, Trade and Foreign Affairs for Greenland. “One of the cornerstones of our new strategy for tourism is to set up regional visitor centres. Therefore, I’m extremely pleased to see the Icefjord Centre taking shape. Our partnership with Realdania is a vital contribution to developing tourism in the years to come.”

Construction work will be managed by Realdania, and through its Realdania By & Byg subsidiary, will have the building ready for the first tourists, researchers and local visitors in the allocated time frame.

Dorte Mandrup  Greenland  Fjord  Qaasuitsup municipality  visitor attraction  tourist attraction 
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Danish architectural firm Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter have unveiled designs for an arctic visitor attraction designed to draw visitors to Greenland. The proposed Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat – a town in the Qaasuitsup municipality in western Greenland – will help develop Greenland’s tourism and will demonstrate the history and culture of the ice fjord, as well as highlighting the dramatic melting of the UNESCO-protected Greenland ice sheet. Scheduled to open in
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Part of the existing hiking trail, the building offers views of the ice fjord and surrounding landscape / MIR
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