BIG architects: national gallery of greenland
BIG architects: national gallery of greenland BIG architects: national gallery of greenland
feb 10, 2011

BIG architects: national gallery of greenland

‘national gallery of greenland’ by bjarke ingels group in nuuk, greenland all images courtesy bjarke ingels group

danish architects bjarke ingels group has won the invited competition to design greenland’s new national gallery of art in the capital city of nuuk. a collaborative effort with TNT nuuk, ramboll nuuk, andarkitekti, the proposal was unanimously selected over six other nordic architects including norwegian snøhetta and finnish heikkinen-komonen. 

view to the fjord

conceived as a projection of a geometrically perfect circle on the sloped site, the new 3000 m2 museum is a courtyard building that combines a comprehensive layout with a sensitive adaption to the landscape. the resulting form resembles a melted ring that follows the natural topography to imply the metaphor of a glacier or drifting snow.


‘the danish functionalist architecture in nuuk is typically square boxes which ignore the unique nature of greenland. we therefore propose a national gallery which is both physically and visually in harmony with the dramatic nature, just like life in greenland is a symbiosis of the nature. we have created a simple, functional and symbolic shape, where the perfect circle is supplied by the local topography which creates a unique hybrid between the abstract shape and the specific location’, says bjarke ingels, founder and partner of BIG.

from the water

the centre of the melted ring hosts an internal courtyard and an outdoor sculpture garden. serving as the museum’s focal point, the slope of the courtyard allows the space to open up towards the city and the view.

the cyclical shape of the gallery enables a flexible division of the exhibition space according to individual needs. much like the guggenheim museum’s rotunda layout in new york, a ramp and staircase form a coherent cycle from arrival through mezzanine and auditorium to exhibition loop and back again.

interior view

exhibition space


schematic diagrams (top left) geometric circle superimposed on landscape (top right) form follows the topography (bottom left) view towards the fjord (bottom right) circular organization

(left) workshops & storage – all side functions are concentrated in a central core (right) ciculation – a ramp and a staircase form a coherent cycle from arrival through mezzanine and auditorium to exhibition space

physical model

aerial view

exhibition space


site plan

floor plan / level 0

floor plan / level -1

floor plan / level -2


site section

site section

fold-out section

east elevation

west elevation

south elevation

north elevation

exploded axo

project info:

client: nunatta eqqumiitsulianik saqqumersitsivia collaboration: TNT nuuk, rambøll buuk, arkitekti, MIR, glessner group partner in charge: bjarke ingels, andreas pedersen project leader: jakob henke team: daniel selensky, ji-young yoon, gul ertekin, aleksander tokarz, alessio zenaro, johan cool, nickla antoni rasch

  • Renderings by whom? Luxigon or MIR?

    Joel M. says:
  • Really nice renderings of usual BIG sillyness.

    This jokey ‘aw-shucks’ architecture with sloppy execution is getting really tiring.

    bill says:
  • Fun project + nice model, but the BIG formula is getting worn out. Yet another finite architectural object “acting-out” its generic program.

    wpgmb says:
  • plans + sections apparently are SO 20th century.

    g says:
  • what exactly does that mean, g?

    john says:
  • that db can post some plans + sections while they’re at it.
    just because drawings are not as flashy as model pics, diagrams, and renderings, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be posted (the sections are nice, btw)

    g says:
  • Exterior rendering are awesome !

    Bull says:
  • since publishing the article, we have received the full drawing package from BIG. the plans and sections have been added.

    erica / designboom says:
  • It reminds me things made of felt. Very nice and warm. It can be covered with moss from outside too. Why not? Nice balance between a courtyard and a seaside; between what we no of Iceland and warm museum inside.

    PB says:
  • Man, that spider thing sure gets around.

    idle crane says:
  • Reminded me of Dali’s melting clocks.

    Ali Manco says:
  • I’m a big fan of this guys!
    Great work!

    João Cruz says:
  • The circle is transformed following to relief, but in the same time the hill is dug out. where is the sens? funny but generic project.

    not a big deal says:
  • I’m liking the way that organic stuff is becoming more articulate, less arbitrary recently

    this is a good example of that trend

    dbkii says:
  • aren’t there a lot rooms espacially workshopspaces without windows and daylight? the floorplan -2 doesn’t work at all

    big mess says:
  • wow loving it

    lvw says:
  • Its really nice, they got rid off he triangle shape but they couldn’t trash the idea of sectioning the building diagonally, and intercross circulation…very good one though

    mud says:
  • wow

    ines says:
  • Bedpan?

    Ed says:
  • @idle crane, This spider thing is a Louise Bourgeoi’s masterpiece.

    maverick says:
  • Nice project, clear idea fantastic drawings and renederings….

    Julian Nachev says:

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