Andenes, Norway, approximately 185 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Just a few miles from shore lies the deep sea valley, Bleiksdjupa, where migrating whales frequently pass by, and soon, a new “whale” will be spotted sandwiched between the edge of the ocean and the rocky Norwegian shore.
This Whale isn’t a large aquatic mammal, but an arctic attraction that rises like a soft hill out of the Norwegian landscape as if “a giant had lifted a thin layer of the crust of the earth and created a cavity underneath.” The project, which recently won an international design competition, was designed by Dorte Mandrup, together with Marianne Levinsen Landskab, JAC Studio, Thornton Tomasetti, AT Plan & Arkitektur, Nils Øien and Anders Kold.
The building will house exhibition spaces, offices, a cafe, and a store. Large windows open toward the archipelago to create a visual connection between the exhibition spaces and the natural surroundings.
Visitors to The Whale can walk on the building’s curved roof for views of the ocean, the mountains, the midnight sun, or the northern lights. The roof will be covered with stones that naturally patinate and underline the connection between the Norwegian landscape and the building. The roof’s parabolic form transmits the forces to three support points in the corners of the building to create a large, column-free inner room.
The Whale’s goals are to strengthen Northern Norway as a travel destination and protect the marine environment and its wildlife through art, science, and architecture. “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.
The building is slated to open in 2022.