dorte mandrup's winning design for inuit heritage center in canada rises from a vast tundra

dorte mandrup's winning design for inuit heritage center in canada rises from a vast tundra

unveiling the Nunavut inuit Heritage Center in Iqaluit, canada


Danish architecture studio Dorte Mandrup was announced as the winner of the international competition to design a new Inuit Heritage Center in the territory of Nunavut, at the northern edge of Iqaluit, Canada. Expected to complete in 2027, the expansive proposal will promote awareness of Inuit culture and support cultural healing and reconciliation between Inuit and non-Inuit by offering a venue where the native community can reconnect with its collective past through objects, stories, and activities. Apart from the exhibition spaces, the center will house a café, workshop area, conservations lab, shop, daycare center, hostel, and offices and connect to a large outdoor area where traditional practices such as carving, kayak building, tool making, and berry picking, can unfold.

dorte mandrup's winning design for inuit heritage center in canada rises from a vast tundra
all visuals © Mir., courtesy Dorte Mandrup



Dorte mandrup spotlights cultural healing for inuits 


For the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Center, Dorte Mandrup (see more here) joined forces with Guy Architects, LEES+Associates, Adjeleian Allen Rubeli, EXP, Pageau Morel, Altus Group, and indigenous consultants Kirt Ejesiak and Alexander Flaherty. Together the winning team took part in a process that embraced a highly sensitive and complex context, fundamentally expressing great consideration for the community perspectives on Inuit traditional knowledge and the healing potential of the Inuit Nunavut Heritage Center.


Working within this context requires both extreme sensitivity and consideration of landscape and its cultural significance. The community has been working tirelessly for a long time to establish a place for Inuit to collect precious heritage and share unique, specialized knowledge that remains imperative for future generations and is in severe risk of vanishing. We are looking very much forward to listen, learn, and be the link between thought and form,’ writes Founder and Creative Director Dorte Mandrup.

dorte mandrup's winning design for inuit heritage center in canada rises from a vast tundra
Dorte Mandrup wins competition to design Canada’s long-awaited Nunavut Inuit Heritage Center



a sculptural roof that merges with the rocky landscape


The landscape and the movement of the snow and wind inform the design of the building. Drawing inspiration from the patterns formed in snowdrifts by the prevailing wind, kalutoqaniq, which has long served as a natural wayfinding system for the Inuit, the building carves into the rocky hillside overlooking Iqaluit. It follows the curves and longitudinal features of the expansive terrain.


What the building takes away from the land, it gives back with a generous roof that merges with the rocky landscape and offers a new natural outdoor gathering place with unhindered views over the vast tundra. The roof will be covered in rock and turf, dissolving the lines between the building and the terrain while ensuring continuous movement across the landscape. By taking advantage of the protective rock, the structure forms a shelter that naturally embraces the sensitive collections and exhibits beneath. An open slit in the hill creates a daylit space for the different activities and gatherings in the center.

dorte mandrup's winning design for inuit heritage center in canada rises from a vast tundra
the project embraces cultural healing for Inuits



The Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre honors the Canadian Government’s commitment to the Nunavut Agreement which identified an urgent need for a territorial heritage facility. ‘We have waited many years for this opportunity and have never been this close to realising our dream. The need for a territorial heritage centre was first identified in the Nunavut Agreement and thirty years later we are still without a place of our own. As a result, many items made by our ancestors are stored in southern facilities. With few opportunities for Inuit to engage with these items, we continue to be disconnected from this important part of our cultural heritage. But there is a growing momentum for an Inuit-owned and operated facility,’ reflects William Beveridge, Executive Director for the Inuit Heritage Trust (IHT).

dorte mandrup's winning design for inuit heritage center in canada rises from a vast tundra
a sculptural roof that merges with the vast tundra



project info:


name: Nunavut Inuit Heritage Center 

location: Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

client: Inuit Heritage Trust

architect: Dorte Mandrup @dorte_mandrup

architect of record: Guy Architects

landscape architect: LEES+Associates

indigenous consultants: Kirt Ejesiak (CEO of Arctic UAV and CEO of Panaq Design),
Alexander Flaherty (Founder of Polar Outfitting)
structural engineer: Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Limited

civil engineer: EXP Services Inc.

mechanical, electrical & sustainability: Pageau Morel et Associés
cost consultant: Altus Group Limited

visualizations: Mir. |

project area: 5,500 sqm 
expected completion year: 2027

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