Ilulissat Icefjord Centre. A dynamic facility in Greenland
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Ilulissat Icefjord Centre. A dynamic facility in Greenland

A visitors’ center nestled in the Arctic wilderness

Dorte Mandrup A/S

By Redazione The Plan -

The Ilulissat Icefjord Centre designed by Dorte Mandrup is nestled in the Arctic wilderness of gorgeous Greenland. The structure is located 250 kilometers [155 miles] North of the Arctic Circle with views of the breathtaking Kangia Icefjord. Here the onlookers can see first-hand the effects of global warming. The sleek shape gently rests on the rough topography while framing the sights of the fjord for the year-round local and international visitors. The center is also home to exhibitions, café, store, movie theater and educational spaces. The narrative of ice, humanity and historical progression are depicted throughout.


A boomerang

The Icefjord Centre is made up of fifty steel frames that form the shape of a boomerang, almost resembling the remains of an animal lying on the rocky terrain. This sweeping shape averts the accumulation of snow. When the snow melts in the spring, the water flows under the building to the Sermermiut Lake. A free public space is created by the roof which serves as a continuation of the surrounding hiking paths, a kind of gateway between the town of Ilulissat and the wilderness beyond. Here, the huge icebergs in the fjord and astonishing landscape can enjoyed by guests. Additionally, there are flanking covered caps at each end to encourage gathering. This is the ideal location for community members to celebrate the forty minutes of sun in January after six weeks of darkness.


A green building in Greenland

The complex is sustainable constructed with an eighty percent re-used steel frame and only the necessary amount of concrete, usually the main contributor to the carbon footprint. Local woods of oak and pine were used as exterior and interior cladding. The power for the building is provided by the local water driven powerplant. The interior of the center provides guest with information about how ice progresses from an ice crystal in Greenland's cold cloud layer, to a part of the inland ice and finally moves towards the glacier and breaks off in icebergs. Additionally, there is information about how different Inuit cultures lived under harsh conditions and how climate change reveals itself in the Arctic landscape. JAC Studios designed an exciting exhibition with ice flakes shows films and features archeological items in order for visitors to learn about the area’s unique culture and climate.


Founder and creative director Dorte Mandrup

“The Icefjord Centre is defined by the unique Arctic conditions surrounding it. It offers a refuge in the dramatic landscape and aims at becoming a gathering point from where you can experience the infinite non-human scale of the Greenlandic wilderness, the migration between darkness and light, the midnight sun and the Northern lights dancing across the sky.”

The award-winning Dorte Mandrup A/S was founded in 1999. The international studio specializes in mixed-use, cultural buildings. The Icefjord Centre is a stellar addition to Dorte Mandrup’s impressive portfolio.



Location: Greenland
Name: Ilulissat Icefjord Centre
Client: Realdania, Avannaata Kommunia and the government of Greenland (Naalakkersuisut)
Architect: Dorte Mandrup A/S
Landscape:  Kristine Jensen. Landscape & Architecture
Engineer: Søren Jensen Rådgivende Ingeniørfirma A/S
Exhibition design: JAC Studios
Niels Bennetzen, City Planning
Minik Thorleif Rosing, Geologist Copenhagen University, Geological Museum and Natural History Museum of Denmark
Photographer: Adam Mørk, courtesy of Dorte Mandrup

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