Ilulissat Icefjord Centre
Status: Completed, 2021
At the western coast of Greenland lies the massive glacier Sermeq Kujalleq. For more than 250 years, glaciologists have studied the ancient glacier and its daily production of immense amounts of ice, and it remains an ideal spot for scientific observation of climate change. Dorte Mandrup has designed the new Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat to blend in with the impressive landscape while offering local residents, tourists, and climate researchers the ultimate vantage point from which to absorb the historic atmosphere of the Icefjord. The Icefjord Centre will tell a story of ice, of human history and evolution on both a local and global scale.
Dorte Mandrup won the international competition to design the Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat in summer 2016. The competition was launched by the Government of Greenland, the Municipality of Qaasuitup and Realdania, with the aim to create a local and international meeting place by the Icefjord. Located 250 km north of the arctic circle, the centre is placed in a dramatic and distinctive scenery.
The story of ice. Between the mountain ridges of the Icefjord flows the world’s fastest glaciers; Sermeq Kujalleq. At the glacier’s front, giant icebergs are breaking into a roaring drama. On their way out through the fjord, they tip up to thousands of meters of icebergs. The unique natural scenario of mountains, sea, and the dramatic travel of the icebergs from ice cap to sea has given the Icefjord status as inalienable world heritage. For 250 years, scientists have been following the glacier Sermeq Kujalleq, where global warming is most evident. Here, the Greenlandic inland ice drains into the oceans with increasing speed every year. With the Icefjord Centre opening in spring 2021 the story of ice will be told to local, tourists and researchers from all over the globe.
“The establishment of regional visitor centers is one of the cornerstones in Greenland‘s new tourism strategy. Therefore, it’s an important milestone that the construction of the Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat has now started. Dorte Mandrup‘s beautiful and discreet building is created with great respect for and in unity with the surroundings, and we look forward to seeing it grow up by the Icefjord in the years to come. This will contribute to strengthening the development of Ilulissat and Greenland in general,” says Minister of Industry, Energy and Research, Jess Svane
Creating the foundation for a new understanding. The UNESCO-protected Icefjord area carries 4,000 years of cultural heritage and is essential for understanding the climate crisis. An understanding, the Icefjord Centre aims to support. The groundbreaking for the Icefjord Centre took place in the summer of 2019. Four months later inclining windowpanes and 52 unique steel frames were rising above an inland lake. The aerodynamic form is now visible in the landscape, where it is designed to minimize snow build-up while framing the views towards to fjord.
The curved form is created by geometrical different steel frames, creating a double-curved roof. The framework of the building is covered by a gently sloping, curved wooden boardwalk. It embodies the starting point of the World Heritage Trail and acts as a gathering point, informal seating area, and a viewing platform – offering a spectacular, undisturbed view of the Sermermiut Valley and the Icefjord. The Icefjord area carries 4,000 years of cultural heritage and is essential for a contemporary understanding of climate change.