Danish firm Dorte Mandrup A/S has been announced as the winners of a competition to design the new Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Center on a historic UNESCO naval site in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Selected from 14 entries, the firm’s winning proposal will seemingly float atop an existing World War II bunker and house the offices of a joint Danish, German and Netherlandish corporation working to protect the Wadden Sea area.
In the mid-1850s, this area of the Wadden Sea—an expansive intertidal ecosystem of shallow waters, wetlands, and tidal flats that provide a key habitat for migratory birds—was slowly developed into a naval harbor. Following the Second World War, the site was decommissioned and has since served cursory functions to the German Navy. As the conservation area was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009, the concept limits the amount of land and resources used by developing above one of the site's few remaining unmovable structures.
"After studying the context of the site, we decided to integrate the heavy bunker into the new building," explains principal Dorte Mandrup. "This practical and aesthetic application gives way for the bunker to act as the building foundation for what at night becomes a shimmering and open lighthouse for the area."
The four-story addition is separated into two floors of office space, a meeting/conference floor, and a technical floor with additional storage as well as common spaces that also feature a wind protected terrace with views overlooking the Wadden Sea coastline. The glazed facade will extend down over the existing bunker, wrapping the structure in a single layer of glass, and provide a flexible space for exhibitions, events, and archival storage. The landscape surrounding the bunker will be transformed into organic pools to collect rainwater while offering public gathering space during dry periods.
Dorte Mandrup’s proposal is intended to reflect its context as the coated inner layer of the double-glazed facade creates a “poetic ever-changing reflection” to mirror the shallow surface of the Wadden Sea. The lighthouse-like volume will become a beacon at night, reflecting in the surrounding rainwater pools, while illuminating the heavy heritage foundations it rests on.
The firm completed the Wade Sea Centre—an exhibition and cultural facility in Ribe, Denmark— last February while this summer marks the beginning of construction for the Icefiord Center in Greenland on yet another UNESCO protected site.
News via Dorte Mandrup A/S
22 JAC studios, Jason Bruges, No Parking Marianne Levinsen Landskab APS General Contractor Anders Christensen Rådgivende ingeniører ApS Engineering, Installations Text description provided by the architects. Even at first glance the Wadden Sea Centre gives the impression of a building that has emerged from the ground, drawing a soft, long and clear profile against the Wad- den Sea's infinite horizon.