Disegno Journal ft the Icefjord Centre
Frequently perceived as pristine and empty, our northern circumpolar regions have until recently remained outside most people's consciousness. However, few places in the world have seen more dramatic environmental, economic, and cultural transformation over the past four decades.
Architect Lola Sheppard have researched the Arctic for 15 years. A few months ago she sat down with Dorte Mandrup to talk about the Icefjord Centre and the architectural response the immensity of the Arctic landscape. The conversation is part of the 10th-anniversary issue from Disegno Journal.
“The Icefjord Centre offers opportunities for both outlook and refuge. Its protected interior evokes a tent-like shelter or an over-turned boat hull, while the roof provides a generous viewing platform. Both of these allow visitors to better immerse themselves in the dramatic geology of the icefjord, with its slow, cinematic sweep through the landscape,” Lola Sheppard writes.
Questioning how designers and architects listen to and learn from the cultural and material practices of the Arctic, instead of importing familiar, Eurocentric references, the interview also touches on vernacular architecture in a place with no permanents building traditions of its own.
“It’s an interesting discussion and balance all the time. Especially in Greenland, where there is no real building or vernacular tradition, because it mostly reflects buildings styles largely imported from Scandinavia. I would rather not relate to the building tradition itself, but more to the way that you conceive of buildings in comparison to the landscape. I would much rather discuss the building as a shelter for human beings in the landscape. It’s quite amazing: there were people here 1000 year ago – how is that even possible? I have great respect for that culture of survival,” explains Dorte Mandrup.
Photo: Adam Mørk