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The new visitor attraction that just opened its doors 250km north of the Arctic Circle

The new Ilulissat Icefjord Centre is part of Greenland’s plan to attract more tourists to the country




The Ilulissat Icefjord Centre sits on the edge of a Unesco World Heritage Site   Credit: Adam Mork

A new visitor centre located on a World Heritage Site has opened its doors, with the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre sitting a rather chilly 250km (155mi) north of the Arctic Circle.

Designed by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre sits on the edge of the Unesco-protected area on the west coast of Greenland. The site is the sea mouth of Sermeq Kujalleq, one of the few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap reaches the sea and one of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world.



Designed to blend into the surrounding terrain the new attraction features a walkable roof for unobstructed views of the World Heritage Site, while inside is an exhibition space, theatre, café, shop and a research centre.

Sustainability and developing an eco-friendly message are at the heart of the construction, which as such has been built with a steel frame and minimal use of concrete. The steel frame also means a lighter structure reducing the impact on the bedrock, flora and fauna.

The building connects to an existing hiking path, with Mandrup saying that the centre “offers a refuge in the dramatic landscape and aims to become a natural gathering point from which you can experience the infinite, non-human scale of the arctic wilderness”.

Standing up to the harsh arctic weather, the inclination of the roof means the centre is also protected from prevailing winds and snow build-up on the structure.

“The establishment of regional visitor centres is one of the cornerstones in Greenland’s new tourism strategy,” said Jess Svane, Greenland’s minister of Industry, Energy and Research.

“Dorte Mandrup’s beautiful and discreet building is created with great respect for and in unity with the surroundings. This will contribute to strengthening the development of Ilulissat and Greenland in general.”



Open year-round and free-to-visit, the centre will educate visitors on the nature and culture of Greenland, telling the story of our culture and climate from 124,000 years BC to the present day.

Denmark’s JAC Studios is behind the exhibition design with the 400sq m (4,300sq ft) space appearing as an open-ice landscape where visitors are invited to explore the story of ice and icebergs, and how the different Inuit cultures lived in Arctic conditions.

Included in the exhibition are interactive models of the Kangia Icefjord that tell the story of life by the Fjord, and the 4000 years old settlement Sermermiut, which is located right outside the Icefjord Centre. A key element of the exhibition is the original ice cores on display, which have been collected deep within the Greenland inland ice.

“The Story of Ice is the story of man,” said exhibition architect, Johan Carlsson.

“The exhibition is an invitation to approach nature and understand man's place within it. It opens up to reflections about humankind's existential conditions, and the acknowledgement of us, as being a part of the greater whole.

“This idea brings us together across cultures since the condition of the ice affects us all.”

In the development of the exhibition, JAC studios carried out extensive fieldwork, sailings and walks in the Kangia Icefjord. Inspired by this, the exhibition features mouth-blown prisms of glass, directly cast from the ice in the Fjord, with the creations appearing as icebergs floating in the exhibition landscape.

“This exhibition has been about so much more than aesthetics,” said Carlsson.

“The ice landscape in Greenland opens up all your senses, it’s ever-changing and dangerous. It constantly creates new images and is at the same time fierce and poetic.

“It’s impossible to design something as beautiful as nature itself, and for that reason, we invited the ice along as designer to the exhibition.

“The shape of the glass prisms exhibited is a result of the cold from the ice, the streams of the water, and the warmth of the climate.”

The Ilulissat Icefjord Centre has been funded by a partnership between the danish philanthropical foundation Realdania, Avannaata Kommunia and Naalakkersuisut – the government of Greenland. Funding from the exhibition came from Nordea Foundation, Augustinus Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Oak Foundation.


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The new visitor attraction that just opened its doors 250km north of the Arctic Circle | Planet Attractions
news

The new visitor attraction that just opened its doors 250km north of the Arctic Circle

The new Ilulissat Icefjord Centre is part of Greenland’s plan to attract more tourists to the country




The Ilulissat Icefjord Centre sits on the edge of a Unesco World Heritage Site   Credit: Adam Mork

A new visitor centre located on a World Heritage Site has opened its doors, with the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre sitting a rather chilly 250km (155mi) north of the Arctic Circle.

Designed by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre sits on the edge of the Unesco-protected area on the west coast of Greenland. The site is the sea mouth of Sermeq Kujalleq, one of the few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap reaches the sea and one of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world.



Designed to blend into the surrounding terrain the new attraction features a walkable roof for unobstructed views of the World Heritage Site, while inside is an exhibition space, theatre, café, shop and a research centre.

Sustainability and developing an eco-friendly message are at the heart of the construction, which as such has been built with a steel frame and minimal use of concrete. The steel frame also means a lighter structure reducing the impact on the bedrock, flora and fauna.

The building connects to an existing hiking path, with Mandrup saying that the centre “offers a refuge in the dramatic landscape and aims to become a natural gathering point from which you can experience the infinite, non-human scale of the arctic wilderness”.

Standing up to the harsh arctic weather, the inclination of the roof means the centre is also protected from prevailing winds and snow build-up on the structure.

“The establishment of regional visitor centres is one of the cornerstones in Greenland’s new tourism strategy,” said Jess Svane, Greenland’s minister of Industry, Energy and Research.

“Dorte Mandrup’s beautiful and discreet building is created with great respect for and in unity with the surroundings. This will contribute to strengthening the development of Ilulissat and Greenland in general.”



Open year-round and free-to-visit, the centre will educate visitors on the nature and culture of Greenland, telling the story of our culture and climate from 124,000 years BC to the present day.

Denmark’s JAC Studios is behind the exhibition design with the 400sq m (4,300sq ft) space appearing as an open-ice landscape where visitors are invited to explore the story of ice and icebergs, and how the different Inuit cultures lived in Arctic conditions.

Included in the exhibition are interactive models of the Kangia Icefjord that tell the story of life by the Fjord, and the 4000 years old settlement Sermermiut, which is located right outside the Icefjord Centre. A key element of the exhibition is the original ice cores on display, which have been collected deep within the Greenland inland ice.

“The Story of Ice is the story of man,” said exhibition architect, Johan Carlsson.

“The exhibition is an invitation to approach nature and understand man's place within it. It opens up to reflections about humankind's existential conditions, and the acknowledgement of us, as being a part of the greater whole.

“This idea brings us together across cultures since the condition of the ice affects us all.”

In the development of the exhibition, JAC studios carried out extensive fieldwork, sailings and walks in the Kangia Icefjord. Inspired by this, the exhibition features mouth-blown prisms of glass, directly cast from the ice in the Fjord, with the creations appearing as icebergs floating in the exhibition landscape.

“This exhibition has been about so much more than aesthetics,” said Carlsson.

“The ice landscape in Greenland opens up all your senses, it’s ever-changing and dangerous. It constantly creates new images and is at the same time fierce and poetic.

“It’s impossible to design something as beautiful as nature itself, and for that reason, we invited the ice along as designer to the exhibition.

“The shape of the glass prisms exhibited is a result of the cold from the ice, the streams of the water, and the warmth of the climate.”

The Ilulissat Icefjord Centre has been funded by a partnership between the danish philanthropical foundation Realdania, Avannaata Kommunia and Naalakkersuisut – the government of Greenland. Funding from the exhibition came from Nordea Foundation, Augustinus Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Oak Foundation.


 



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