Arctic island to get Dorte Mandrup’s whale-shaped visitor centre

Danish architect Dorte Mandrup has won a competition to design a whale-shaped visitor centre, located on Andøya, the northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago, 300km north of the Arctic Circle.

Located on the edge of the Norwegian Sea, The Whale’s fin roof will give view of marine life, the mountains, the midnight sun and the Northern Lights.

The curved concrete shell will be covered with unworked local stones, and its shape will minimise the accumulation of snow and wind turbulence.

Inside the Whale will be art and science exhibitions, and outside will be a tidepool, a campfire and stepping-stones.

Andøya attracts 50,000 travellers a year, and the project is expected to increase this.

Dorte Mandrup will work with Danish companies Marianne Levinsen Landskab, JAC Studio, Norway’s AT Plan & Arkitektur and Nils Øien, and American consulting engineer Thornton Tomasetti.

The team took the prize against competition from Bjarke Ingels Group, Snøhetta and Reiulf Ramstad.

Børre Berglund, Whale AS’ chief executive, said: "Choosing a winner of the architectural competition has been a major challenge because we had several proposals of a very high quality. However, the project from Dorte Mandrup is a clear winner and meets the competition criteria in the best way. It is poetic and low-key and at the same time a very exciting and unusual building."

Dorte Mandrup said: "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."

Images courtesy of MIR and Dorte Mandrup

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