One Day, a Project : The Whale by Dorte Mandrup

Picture by Dorte Mandrup and MIR

300m north of the Arctic Circle, in Andenes, Norway, where it’s not as cold as you might think, there is a project that touched me. Yes, touched. Touched. Questioned. Charmed.

The artistic caress of an architecture studio (Dorte Mandrup) that had already captivated me with its proposal for the Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Center in Wilhelmshaven is a double blow and continues to please me.
Returning to our Whale, the building is certainly not (yet) completed. It will probably undergo several changes between this state of the competition and the reality that has been delivered, but it still raises a number of very topical issues.

Here, I will talk about atmosphere, image, poetry and of course…architecture !
Because architecture is a bit of a mixture of all these things.
Aldo Rossi even said that “the image of architecture nourishes architecture itself” and that’s exactly what these winning competitions remind me of. Beyond the debate between image and reality (because sometimes there is a debate), it is important to grasp the origin of this image, its reason. The talents of MIR, a studio renowned for its artistic treatment, modern painters armed with computer tools and sumptuous textures, come to serve the architect’s will to project his vision of the territory. This work is then the fruit of an illustrator’s and architect’s instinct, altered by the emotions that will inhabit this project until its delivery (and perhaps even beyond).

We are no longer just in a gloomy description of the building to be erected. It is a work of art in its own right that communicates more than proportions or square metres. It raises the power of the image on the collective and individual imagination. This aspect, sometimes overlooked in architecture, reappears here with force and vigour. One only has to see this almost unreal image (see photo above), evoking for me the jump of a whale in the water, taking with it its visitors into its universe.
An architecture that makes us travel.

If we look more closely at the building, we find in the treatment of the spaces and views the same orientations as in the image. A meeting place between Nature and Culture, Man and Cetaceans. Taking advantage of a location known for its whale-watching facilities, the building seems to emerge from the earth to dive with you under the sea.
A poetic exploration, on and under water.

In the end, I would describe little about the technique, the small details (not always visible) or the relevance I find in this program. For once, let’s leave numbers and spreadsheets aside. Let’s just let it go. Let’s allow ourselves to see what we want to see in contact with meaningful works.
Thank you for that little bit of travel from my desk chair.

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