Danish Architecture Center

A new combined super harbor and international airport located outside Nuuk. A sustainable new arctic building practice based on Greenlandic values, traditions and opportunities. A Greenlandic city designed to serve tourists and migrating mineworkers while maintaining its identity. That is some of the proposals teams of Danish and Greenlandic architects have created as part of “Possible Greenland” the official Danish contribution to the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia which opens august 29th.

“Possible Greenland is an exhibition which seeks to show how architecture in its broadest meaning can contribute to the development of society in Greenland. You could say that Possible Greenland 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. All this are intended as input to a constructive debate rooted in the Greenlandic society,” says Kent Martinussen, Managing Director of the Danish Architecture Center and Commissioner of the Danish pavilion.

“Greenland has so much to offer the globalised world – it is not just a repository of untapped mineral resources waiting to be exploited. Greenland is itself a complex reality, and in the future there will be many visitors who will be needing people with inside knowledge of the country. These pre-existing qualities, which I call Greenlandishness, will be much in demand in the future”, explains Minik Rosing.

Greenland in the center of attention

There will be much to debate as Greenland comes to terms with its new geopolitical position. Chinese businesses are queuing up to discover mineral deposits, the multinational oil companies are already drilling and new shipping routes will bring the world’s maritime traffic through Greenland’s territorial waters. The 56,000 inhabitants of the world’s largest island have only recently gained their independence, and the close ties to Denmark should be loosened in some areas – and maybe reinforced in others.

The exhibition’s Head Curator and internationally renowned Danish-Greenlandic Professor in geology, Minik Rosing, has in cooperation with co-curator NORD Architects Copenhagen, worked together with six teams of architects, engineers, planners and ethnologists from Denmark and Greenland. They have created a series of scenarios which can contribute to a wider debate in the Greenlandic society and also be an invitation to the rest of the world to contribute to a sustainable development of Greenland.

The exhibition at the Danish Pavilion provides a spectacular experience of ‘Greenlandicness’ through models, images, visualizations, text, film and artifacts. In different scenarios of the future representing central perspectives, Possible Greenland explores the main challenges and opportunities Greenland is facing. Visitors will also be able to experience a Greenlandic home, created by the Greenlandic artist Bolatta Silis-Høegh, and come face to face with the rugged and spectacular Greenlandic nature and a piece of the history of the earth in the form of a stone some 3,800,000,000 years old.

About the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

The International Architecture Exhibition in Venice is the world’s most important and most prestigious exhibition concerning architecture, urban planning and construction. This year will feature 55 national pavilions with exhibitions staged in the historic pavilions and streets of Venice. The British architect David Chipperfield is head curator for the main exhibition at the 13. International Architecture Exhibition, which, with its 66 projects created by architects, engineers, artists and students from around the world, focuses on the theme: Common Ground.

Possible Greenland, The official Danish contribution to the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is curated by the internationally renowned Danish-Greenlandic Professor in geology, Minik Rosing, in co-operation with NORD Architects Copenhagen. The Danish Architecture Center, led by Kent Martinussen, has been chosen by the Danish Ministry of Culture to be commissioner for the Danish pavilion. Possible Greenland is financed by The Danish Ministry of Culture, The Danish Arts Foundation, Realdania, Shell, Royal Arctic Line, Rambøll, Dreyers Foundation, Queen Margrethe’s and Prince Henrik’s Foundation, Danmarks Nationalbanks Anniversary Foundation, Colorgruppen, Vink Plast and Neschen.

The Possible Greenland projects

Greenland Cultivating:

Team: tnt Nuuk, ELKIÆR + EBBESKOV Architects, Hausenberg
How can Greenland cultivate resources in a sustainable and democratic way? Greenland needs to debate values, needs and resources. Architects are mapping the current debates in Greenland and initiating 10 topics to be debated in Venice and Greenland during and after the biennale.

Greenland Connecting:

Team: Tegnestuen Nuuk, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Julie Edel Hardenberg, Inuk Silis Høegh)
The Greenlandic Transport Commission recommends establishing a new transatlantic airport outside of Nuuk. The project proposes a scenario where the new airport is coupled with a new container harbor to facilitate future shipping demands when the passages north of Greenland will open. It also raises the debate of the future for the other three Greenlandic municipalities once the airport is moved to Nuuk.

Greenland Inhabiting:

Team: Clement & Carlsen Architects, Qarsoq Tegnestue, Tegnestuen Vandkunsten
Since the 1960s the new architecture in Greenland has been very closely linked to Danish traditions. This project is defining a new arctic building practice based on the values, preferences and relations between man and nature that are inevitable in Greenland.

Greenland Migrating:

Team: KITAA Architects, David Garcia Studio, Henning Larsen Architects
When debating the future of Greenland, migration is on the agenda. Tourism, mining and mineral exploration can cause a migration flow that might turn the Greenlandic population into a minority in their own country. The 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 etc.

Comparative studies:

Team: 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
What can Greenland learn from the world and what can the world learn from Greenland? The team has created a map of comparative studies, analysis and experimental scenarios. Different nations have undergone transformations, challenges and potentials similar to Greenland. But in Greenland there are special traditions, experiences and skills.


Team: Conditions Magazine, TERROIR, Boris Brorman Jensen
Organization in Greenland is a complex matter.In addition to the exhibition the team has created a publication in which a wide range of Greenlandic and international profiles and stakeholders give their opinion and visions for the future development in Greenland.