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Isfjord Center- Greenland

Ilulissat, Greenland

Information about the reference project

Type of building:

Office and Business


Doors, Façades




Ilulissat, Greenland




Dorte Mandrup

Specialist company:

Vinduefabrikken Brønderslev

Picture credits:

© Adam Mork

On the west coast of Greenland, right by the majestic Ilulissat Glacier (Greenlandic: Sermeq Kujalleq), a new visitor centre has been opened. The newbuild designed by Copenhagen-based architect Dorte Mandrup blends seamlessly into the spectacular landscape thanks to its aerodynamic form and its dynamically curved panoramic façade. One particular feature is the steeply sloping timber roof, parts of which can be walked on.

Life in perpetual ice: With its 5000 inhabitants, the community of Ilulissat, located on the west coast of Greenland around 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, is the country’s third-largest town and most popular tourist destination. For more than 250 years, glaciologists have been researching the majestic Ilulissat Glacier here. This glacier was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2004 and moves around 40 metres towards the coast every day, leaving behind it dozens of cubic kilometres of ice in the sea.

In order to offer residents, tourists and climate researchers an attractive view of the breathtaking landscape while also being able to tell the story of the ice, the people who live there and the evolution at a local and global level, a spectacular visitor centre has recently been unveiled in Ilulissat. The Government of Greenland, the Qaasuitsup Municipality and the private Danish association Realdania issued an international invitation to tender for the design of the project in 2016, which was ultimately won by Copenhagen-based architect Dorte Mandrup. The newbuild has since been completed. The result is a flat, aerodynamic pavilion, which impressively mirrors the character of the surrounding landscape with its boomerangshaped, curved design. A central element of the design is the dynamically curved panoramic façade, which slopes away in opposing directions on either side of the building and rises at different angles. This enables visitors to follow the movement of the ice as they walk through the elongated exhibition space. The shape of the building is complemented by the roof, which is also curved on both sides and tapers off at ground level at both ends. Its timber planking, which can be walked on, functions simultaneously as a viewing platform and as the starting point of the World Heritage Trail that is directly adjacent to it.

The load-bearing structure of the building consists of 52 individually formed steel supports and steel beams, each powder-coated black and bent to different angles, which together support the timber roof above. The approx. 550 square metre mullion/transom façade which is integrated into it comprises 52 aluminium/glass units of differing sizes, all fully prefabricated in Denmark and each with seven triple-glazed fields which are situated one above the other. The dimensions of the individual units vary between 1.5 and 2.1 metres in width and 3.2 and 6.2 metres in height depending on their location. The construction is clad on the outside with vertical louvres made from Accoya wood and on the inside with oak plywood. The cumulative effect of this is a distinctive form in which the roof and façade complement each other to create a dynamic shape; like an elongated, curved tent that offers visitors shelter in the Arctic landscape. Axonometrie

Location of the reference project