Nestled in the Arctic landscape of Greenland's UNESCO-protected wilderness, Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter has completed the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre, a research and visitor center that highlights the effects of climate change. The structure blends into the surrounding landscape, offering visitors a unique panorama of the Icefjord, while observing the detrimental consequences that climate change has on the environment.
The Ilulissat Icefjord Centre tells the story of ice and hu-mankind, and how they evolved on the Greenlandic bedrock, the oldest in the world. The structure consists of 50 skeletal steel frames, shaped like a boomerang to resemble the remains of an animal. The wing-shaped structure levitates over the rugged site, sheltering the surrounding plot from snow build-up and freezing winds. During springtime, the melted snow follows its original path beneath the building and into the Sermermiut Lake. The roof acts as a natural extension of the area’s hiking trail, leading visitors into scenic views of the massive icebergs in the fjord.
The Icefjord Centre offers a refuge in the dramatic landscape and aims to become a natural gathering point from which you can experience the infinite, non-human scale of the Arctic wilderness, the transition between darkness and light, the midnight sun, and the Northern lights dancing across the sky. -- Dorte Mandrup
The project will be open year-round, serving as a meeting place for locals, politicians, philanthropists, climate researchers, and tourists. The structure will house exhibition spaces, a film theatre, a restaurant, as well as research and educational facilities. Covered outdoor gathering spaces are also allocated at the ends of the building for visitors to socialize and observe the scenery. The structure was built in sustainable means, minimizing the use of concrete as much as possible. Since the structure is extremely lightweight, it prevents any damage to the ancient bedrock and its flora and fauna.
The interior exhibition, designed by JAC Studios, consists of ice flakes and prisms, created from Kangia Ice Fjord ice blocks that were 3D scanned and mouth blown in glass. Visitors can move around these prisms to learn more about the site's particular nature, observing ice's journey from its birth as an ice crystal, to when it becomes part of the inland ice and finally moves towards the glacier.
Recently, ArchDaily had the chance to meet up with the winner of the Iconic Awards 2021 in the Architects of the Year category Dorte Mandrup, architect, founder, and creative director of Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter at Berlin Questions, to discuss the firm’s latest project in the German capital, the Exile Museum and to reflect on her career and visions. Considering that the architect’s role resides in making politicians aware of situations, Dorte Mandrup sees the need to establish political infrastructure in order to create spaces around and for people, stating that big cities have a possibility of surviving and that is why “we need to understand how to work with the dense city in a much humane way”.