Press release: Possible Greenland

Greenland will be a new fulcrum of the world due to the current development of the Arctic region. This poses challenges and possibilities for the Greenlandic and global society.

Therefore the official Danish contribution to the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia – Possible Greenland – is a joint effort between Greenlandic and Danish architects and engineers to raise questions and create concrete visions for the future development of Greenland and the Greenlandic society.

“As technological innovations emerge and, particularly, as the Arctic sea ice dwindles, Greenland is changing its geographical and geopolitical status from a remote and inaccessible corner of the world to a center of world trade. In this way, Greenland is imperceptibly moving from the periphery of world economic vision to the very center of attention.

My ambition for this project has been to show Greenland as a modern nation with a long and rich cultural history – a country that has immense value to a globalised world. Greenland is not merely a repository of untapped mineral resources ready for exploitation; it offers a complex reality that may nourish us through ideas, experiences and challenges. And ‘Greenlandicness’ is in itself a resource that will be much in demand in the Arctic century that lies before us.”

Greenland in the center of attention

Greenland is currently undergoing a dramatic paradigm shift driven by a political development towards independence, drastic climate changes and a business development potential of historic proportions.
The exhibition at the Danish Pavilion, Possible Greenland, centers on the challenges and opportunities that Greenland faces as the ice melts, vast mineral resources become accessible and new industries and urban cultures emerge.

Taking into account the unique nature of Greenland’s history and culture, teams of Greenlandic and Danish architects and other parties headed by a curatorial team consisting of the internationally renowned Professor in geology at the University of Copenhagen, Minik Rosing and the young Danish architect firm NORD Architects Copenhagen have developed innovative and sustainable visions for economic, social and cultural development in Greenland. At the same time the project raises strategic questions that the Greenlanders must deal with in order to develop a sustainable society in a global world.

Possible Greenland also highlights a Greenland in need of solutions. Solutions that both the political and business communities are to help make possible and where those who take part, also help to set the agenda.

The exhibition

With the Possible Greenland exhibition, the Danish Architecture Center wishes to give the audience – architects, urban planners, investors, politicians and visitors of the Biennale – an insight into Greenland as having great political, cultural and business value in a globalized world.

In our geological era, where we move from the Holocene to the Anthropocene as human impact on the Earth and its ecosystems have been realized, Possible Greenland has had the ambition to explore how architecture can contribute to the positive development of Greenland and the Greenlandic society.

“As Greenland and Denmark share centuries-old cultural and political ties, the relevance of testing architecture’s capacity under the impact of the Anthropocene through building the scenario Possible Greenland seemed obvious!” says Kent Martinussen, Commissioner of the Danish Pavilion and CEO at the Danish Architecture Center.

The exhibition at the Danish Pavilion provides a spectacular experience of ‘Greenlandness’ through images, film and artifacts. In different sections representing central perspectives, Possible Greenland explores the main challenges and opportunities Greenland is facing.

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.

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.

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.

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:
What can Greenland learn from the world and what can the world learn from Greenland? We 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.

Organization in Greenland is a complex matter. We have 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.

The Danish contribution to the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia is sponsored by:  The Danish Ministry of Culture, The Danish Arts Foundation, Realdania, Shell, Royal Arctic Line, Rambøll, Dreyers Fond, Dronning Margrethes og Prins Henriks Fond, Danmarks Nationalbanks Jubilæumsfond af 1968, Colorgruppen, Vink Plast and Neschen.

A smaller version of the Danish pavilion Possible Greenland will be shown on the conference FUTURE GREENLAND in Nuuk February 6th – 7th 2013.