The Icefjord Centre in the spectacular northern lights of the Greenlandic polar night. Copyright: @Adam Mørk
References - March 2024

A house on the ice

Icefjord Center, Ilulissat (DK)

The Icefjord Centre makes the disappearance of the spectacular polar landscape in the west of Greenland its main message. The special shape of the building posed challenges for the local sanitation company.

Hardly any human product can compete with the beauty of this wilderness, not even architecture. It is no coincidence that the Ilulissat Icefjord on the west coast of Greenland is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Every day, 70 million tonnes of ice break away from the neighbouring Sermeq Kujalleq glacier and flow into the 6 km wide and 55 km long fjord. This is how small and large icebergs drift into Disko Bay - and give the impression of an almost inexhaustible force of nature.

The impression is deceptive. Here, north of the Arctic Circle, nature is particularly fragile. The size of the ice masses on the fjord has halved in the last decade.

A wing blown by the wind
The vulnerability of this wilderness is reflected in architect Dorte Mandrup's Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat. Built on a high plateau on the edge of Greenland's third largest town, the visitor centre not only overlooks the spectacular bay with its drifting icebergs. With its shape of a wing, it blends into this wind and snow-blown landscape. The supporting structure of visible steel frames, wooden elements and floor-to-ceiling windows play a key role in harmonising the solitary building with its surroundings. The elongated silhouette of the building, twisted in the centre, also makes it possible to see ever new sections of the area through the triangular and square windows.

"Geberit systems are safe and reliable long after the installation has been completed."
Jesper Bredahl, co-owner of the plumbing and electrical company VVS og El Firmaet A/S

Moving shape
The curved shape of the building in particular presented challenges for the plumbing company involved. “Both the shafts and all the pipes had to be installed in the curved walls,“ says Jesper Bredahl, co-owner of the plumbing and electrical company VVS og El Firmaet A/S in Ilulissat. The decision in favour of Geberit products was easy for him and his business partner Jesper Hjord Hansen: “Geberit systems are safe and reliable long after the installation has been completed.“

The ice in all its diversity
The Icefjord Centre makes the core element of the Greenlandic landscape, the ice endangered by climate change, its main message. An exhibition, supplemented by an ice laboratory and a cinema, uses physical objects and digital media to tell the story of ice, its physical formation and change, its seismographically measurable movements and its role in climate history. It is precisely this combination of science, architecture and nature that expands our understanding of the ice and its significance far beyond Greenland.

Know-how Installed

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