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Sustaining Greenland at the Venice Biennale

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‘Possible Greenland’ explores alternate futures for the world’s largest island


Chipperfield-curated 13th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice, opens its doors this week to unveil 55 national pavilions, focusing on the theme Common Ground.

The Danish contribution, Possible Greenland, is a collaboration between geology professor Minik Rosing and Copenhagen-based NORD Architects, alongside six teams of architects, engineers, planners and ethnologists from both Denmark and Greenland.


Tegnestuen Vandkunsten - New Arctic community proposal including raised access deck // Greenland Inhabiting

‘This is an exhibition which seeks to show how architecture can contribute to the development of society in Greenland.’ says Kent Martinussen, Managing Director of the Danish Architecture Centre and Commissioner of the pavilion.

‘It shows the vision described in all the reports written in Greenland over the past few years. We show what new housing could look like, how to rethink the airport, harbour and infrastructure of tomorrow, and what the new town cultures in Greenland could be like.


Tegnestuen Vandkunsten - New Arctic Building Practice model // Greenland Inhabiting

Models, visualizations, film and artefacts describe a variety of future scenarios for the world’s largest island, aiming to spark wider debate in Greenlandic society and invite the rest of the world to contemplate its sustainable development.

‘Greenland has so much to offer the globalised world – it is not just a repository of untapped mineral resources waiting to be exploited…It is itself a complex reality which I call ‘Greenlandishness.’ - Minik Rosing

Proposals feature a combined super-harbor outside Nuuk, a new arctic settlement based on vernacular construction and an urban masterplan to serve tourists and migrating mineworkers.

Other exhibits include a residence created by artist Bolatta Silis-Høegh and a 3,800,000,000-year -old rock to remind viewers of Greenland’s rugged and spectacular landscape.


DAC - Harbour Market // Greenland Migrating

Possible Greenland takes place in the context of the country’s current geopolitical shift towards independence from Denmark. Multinational oil companies and many Chinese enterprises are keen to exploit the island’s wealth of mineral deposits.

Possible Greenland features five sub-categories:

Greenland Cultivating
Tegnestuen Nuuk, ELKIÆR + EBBESKOV Architects, Hausenberg
This section investigates how Greenland can cultivate resources in a sustainable and democratic way, mapping current debates and initiating ten topics to be discussed in Venice and Greenland during and after the biennale.


Tegnastuen Nuuk/BIG - Global Hub airport // Greenland Connecting

Greenland Connecting
Tegnestuen Nuuk, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Julie Edel Hardenberg, Inuk Silis Høegh)
The connecting project proposes a scenario where a new airport is coupled with a container harbor to facilitate future shipping demands when the passages north of Greenland open. It also raises the debate of the future for the other three Greenlandic municipalities once the airport is moved to Nuuk, as recommended by the Greenlandic Transport commission.


Tegnestuen Vandkunsten - ‘We are only visitors in the landscape’ // Greenland Inhabiting

Greenland Inhabiting
Clement & Carlsen Architects, Qarsoq Tegnestue, Tegnestuen Vandkunsten
Since the 1960s, Greenland’s modern architecture has been very closely linked to Danish traditions. Inhabiting defines a new arctic building practice based on the values, preferences and relations between man and nature that have a certain inevitability in the country. 


KITAA Architects, David Garcia Studio, Henning Larsen Architects - Winter Sports Plaza // Greenland Migrating

Greenland Migrating
KITAA Architects, David Garcia Studio, Henning Larsen Architects
Tourism, mining and mineral exploration could cause a migration flow that might turn the Greenlandic population into a minority in their own country. This project investigates a historic, dynamic urban development in Greenland and creates new aggregating structures that facilitate the meeting of different groups of people in the cities: Greenlanders, tourists, workers, students, for example.

Comparative Studies
Arctic Engineer at Sanaartornermik Ilinniarfik in Sisimiut, Greenland and the Technical University of Denmark, DTU Management Engineering, Aarhus School of Architecture, CEBRA Architects, Transform Architects
This series of short projects investigates what the world can learn from Greenland and what it can in turn learn from the global community. The multi-disciplinary team has created a map of comparitative studies, analysis and experimental scenarios looking at parallel developments and Greenland’s unique qualities.


KITAA Architects/ David Garcia Studio/Henning Larsen Architects // Greenland Connecting

Possible Greenland was commissioned by The Danish Architecture Centre, and financed by The Danish Arts Foundation, Shell, Royal Arctic Line and The | Danish Ministry of Culture, among others.

For more information, visit www.dac.dk/biennale2012.

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