BIG wins competition to design Greenland’s new National Gallery

Courtesy of BIG

The team of BIG + TNT Nuuk + Ramboll Nuuk + Arkitekti have won the competition to design the new National Gallery of in the country’s capital , among invited proposals totaling 6 Nordic architects. More images and complete press release after the break.

Courtesy of BIG

Located on a steep slope overlooking the most beautiful of Greenland’s fjords, the 3000 m2 National Gallery will serve as a cultural and architectural icon for the people of Greenland. The new museum will combine historical and contemporary art of the country in one dynamic institution The winning proposal was selected by a unanimous museum board among 6 proposals, including Norwegian Snøhetta, Finnish Heikkinen‐Komonen, Islandic Studio Granda and Greenlandic Tegnestuen Nuuk.

Courtesy of BIG

“The Board has a clear vision: to work for the establishment of an internationally oriented highly professional institution that communicates the continuous project of documenting and developing the Greenlandic national identity through art and culture. Our dream is a national gallery where historic and contemporary art meets circumpolar pieces, Nordic and world art in general. Our dream is an institution that stimulates our curiosity, awake our excitement with its thought‐provoking design and where we all feel at home. Selecting a prominent architect as BIG, I am sure that our chances of realizing that dream are good”, Tuusi Josef Motzfeldt, Greenland’s National Gallery of Art.

As a projection of a geometrically perfect circle on to the steep slope, the new gallery is conceived as a courtyard building that combines a pure geometrical layout with a sensitive adaption to the landscape. The three‐dimensional imprint of the landscape creates a protective ring around the museum’s focal point, the sculpture garden where visitors, personnel, exhibition merge with culture and nature, inside and outside.

Courtesy of BIG

“The Danish functionalistic architecture in Nuuk is typically square boxes which ignore the unique nature of Greenland. We therefore propose a national gallery which is both physically and visually in harmony with the dramatic nature, just like life in Greenland is a symbiosis of the nature. We have created a simple, functional and symbolic shape, where the perfect circle is supplied by the local topography which creates a unique hybrid between the abstract shape and the specific location”, Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Partner, BIG.

The slope opens up the sculpture garden towards the city and the view, framing both the sculpture garden and museum functions. A rough looking external façade of white concrete will patina over time and adjust to the local weather, while the circular inner glass façade will consist of a simple and refined frame which contrasts the rough nature and compliments the beautiful view.

Courtesy of BIG

” The building will with its simplistic coarseness and harmony with the landscape become a symbol of the current independent Greenlandic artistic and architectural expression.”, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Partner & Project Leader, BIG.

The circular shape of the gallery enables a flexible division of the exhibition into different shapes and sizes, creating a unique framework for the museum’s art. Visitor access to the exhibition happens through a covered opening created by a slight lift in the façade into a lobby with a 180 degree panorama view towards the sculpture garden and the fjord as well as access to the common museum functions, including ticket counters, wardrobe, boutique and a café. The new gallery will create more activity at the waterfront by attracting the whole area is interconnected by a path which like the museum, forms after the shifting inclinations of the terrain. The locals and visitors will be able to admire the clear shape of the gallery which appears as a sculpture or a piece of land‐art.

Courtesy of BIG

“Greenland National Gallery for Art will play a significant role for the citizens of Greenland and the inhabitants of Nuuk as a cultural, social, political, urban and architectural focal point that opens towards the city and the world through its perfect circular geometry and shape”, Bjarke Ingels, Stifter & Partner, BIG.

Architect: BIG
Location: Nuuk, Greenland
Partner in charge: Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Pedersen
Project leader: Jakob Henke
Collaboration: TNT Nuuk, Rambøll Nuuk, Arkitekti, MIR, Glessner Group
Team: Daniel Selensky, Ji –young Yoon, Gul Ertekin, Aleksander Tokarz, Alessio Zenaro, Johan Cool, Nicklas Antoni Rasch
Client: Nunatta Eqqumiitsulianik Saqqummersitsivia
Size: 3,000 sqm
Images: Courtesy of BIG

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "BIG wins competition to design Greenland’s new National Gallery" 11 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Francisco

    Yes… is more of the same.

  • spacecutter

    Nice. I see more sensitivity than what BIG is usually capable of.

  • ARCHILEPSYmagazine

    They are certainly never afraid to emphasize the DRAMA in their renderings. This first few images look like the End of Days…

    Regardless, there are few architects whose work is so soundly based on analytical responses to the context and program.

    • spacecutter

      I would say the work is programmatic brutalism in the dutch spirit but surely not sound contextualism. Dun, BBV, W & many others reveal the monumental shape making agenda.

    • Robb

      Dude, stop hyping without reason. Theay allways outsource models to Luxigon for renders, like allmost everyone else. It’s Luxigon, not BIG that creating DRAMA.

  • Eugene

    Jeez…again? Really? It’s not even unique!

    • Needs

      It doesn’t need to be unique in my opinion. It is good though.

  • tsdfg

    Awesome renderings. I’m not sure the building will live up to them…

    • WO

      haha! good one

  • d.teil

    the renderings are quite artistic, fantastic job here. even rendering #1 might be wrong in scale.
    the design – for sure not bad. a typical “big” design (with some influence took from sanaa and even perhaps steven holl by regarding the long ramps here (of course now you can say – have a look on the shanghai pavillion from them….). most beautiful one is rendering #2 with the 2 childs looking to the big void outside. very impressing!