Rocky “Whale” Emerges in the Arctic Circle Blending Architecture and Environment

The Whale by Dorte Mandrup

Danish architecture firm Dorte Mandrup has been selected to create Norway's next big attraction. The company beat out stiff competition with their design for The Whale—an ambitious project in the Arctic Circle that aims to attract even more visitors to this remote area. Located 185 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the island of Andøya, The Whale gives an unparalleled view of the rugged natural landscape and seaside.

Dorte Mandrup's design beautifully integrates with the environment, as the rocky structure slowly emerges from the ground and gently slopes toward the seaside. The organic form creates volume within the building without disrupting the tranquil ambiance of Andenes. This town on the northernmost tip of the island is known as a prime whale-watching destination, hence the name of the project. Already attracting 50,000 visitors a year, The Whale AS put out an international call in an effort to develop the area further.

To that end, big-name architecture firms like Snøhetta, BIG, and Reiulf Ramstad were all finalists in the competition. However, it was Dorte Mandrup that won out for their ability to combine the requirements for functional space with respect for the environment. “The project from Dorte Mandrup is a clear winner and meets the competition criteria in the best way,” shared Børre Berglund, CEO of The Whale AS. “It is poetic and low-key and at the same time a very exciting and unusual building.”

Described as seeming like “a giant had lifted a thin layer of the crust of the earth and created a cavity underneath,” The Whale‘s concrete outer shell makes for an enormous, open space without any columns. Inside, the area is divided between exhibition spaces, offices, a café, and a store, with large picture windows providing a visual connection between interior and exterior.

“Located this far North, Andøya is a unique place and The Whale an extraordinary project. Not only will we be creating architecture in yet another remarkable landscape, but we will also take part in increasing the understanding of whales and preservation of marine life,” said Founder and Creative Director, Dorte Mandrup. “Right here on the edge of the ocean, we will be making a mark in a magnificent and ancient landscape. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility, which is extremely motivating and inspiring.”

Expected to open to the public in 2022, The Whale is just another step in transforming the Arctic into a premier travel destination.

The Whale is the latest piece of contemporary architecture slated for the Arctic Circle.

The Whale by Dorte Mandrup

Contemporary Architecture in Norway

Tourist Attractions in the Arctic Circle

Dorte Mandrup: Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [designboom]

All images via MIR and Dorte Mandrup.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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