300 km North of the Arctic Circle, on the tip of the island Andøya lies Andenes. A small town located amid dramatic landscapes – both above and below the ocean’s surface. Just a few sea miles from shore a deep-sea valley unfolds. It is frequently visited by migrating whales, making Andenes one of the best places in the world to see this fabled animal up-close. The new Arctic attraction, The Whale, tells the story of the big inhabitants of this underwater world, rising as a soft hill on the rocky shore – as if a giant had lifted a thin layer of the crust of the earth and created a cavity underneath.Read more ↓
Rugged mountain tops, lowland marshes and peats characterize Andøya, but compared to many other places this far North, the gulf stream makes for a welcoming climate for numerous migrating whales. This pit-stop has made Andenes one of the best places in the world to spot whales and is the reason the attraction will be built there; on the edge of this magnificent underwater-world.
Shaped by the Surroundings
The landscape surrounding The Whale is essential for the shape of the building. The form of the roof is defined by three high points on the site, and the foundation is influenced by the landscape beneath it. The surface of the roof is covered with natural, unworked stones from the area, and large windows opening towards the archipelago underline the connection between landscape and building.
The curved roof becomes a new viewpoint that visitors and locals are invited to walk on. From here you can overlook the archipelago, marvel at the midnight sun’s reflection in the ocean or the northern lights dancing over the sky.
A single curved concrete shell makes up the roof of The Whale. By using this parabolic form, the structure effectively transmits the forces to three support points in the corners of the building. This makes it possible to create a large, inner column-free room.
As a result of this curvature, one can achieve relatively long spans while minimizing material use, resulting in an economical and sustainable design. At the same time, the shape of the building provides a minimal surface area, compared to floor area and volume, which is favourable for both material and energy consumption. The shape is aerodynamic, meaning that no negative turbulence effects will occur, and snow build-up will be minimized.
Entering The Whale
Inside The Whale a large space opens naturally towards the mountains and the sea. A long horizontal view of the mountains and archipelago creates a direct visual connection between the surroundings and the exhibition, which is underlined by the rocks entering the building in multiple places. The exhibition will curate a meeting between whale and human, nature and culture. Through art and science a visit to The Whale will be a poetic exploration of different universes – below and above water – inspired by the whales' journey around the globe. A journey where boundaries are not defined by nationality or drawn by culture.
The building will house exhibition spaces, offices, a café and a store, and around the attraction a carefully planned web of paths, platforms and viewpoints highlight the landscape. A tidepool, a campfire and stepping-stones invite visitors to explore the surroundings in-depth and underline the connection between the building and the surrounding nature.
With an ambitious goal to combine architecture and a mission to protect marine life, The Whale will strengthen Northern Norway as a travel destination and create a positive ripple effect outward to other businesses in the north.