Norway is building a new whale museum on the southern coast and it is shape that makes all the difference. Designed by Danish architectural studio Dorte Mandrup, the whale museum, The Whale, is in the shape of a whale tail coming out from water!
Norway is popular for whales – they visit the Norwegian coast every year, showing off for tourists and locals alike. 300 km North of the Arctic Circle, on the tip of the island Andøya lies Andenes, a place frequently visited by migrating whales, making it one of the best places in the world to see this fabled animal up-close. The Whale, the museum, is the new attraction of the locality. The building rises 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.
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.
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
(source: Dorte Mandrup)