in november 2019, danish architecture studio dorte mandrup won an international competition to design ‘the whale’ — a new attraction to be located 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the arctic circle in norway. however, soon after the announcement, the project was delayed due to the discovery of archeological findings dating back to the viking age on site. the settlement mound of andenes was well known, but not the extent of it. it turned out that the mound was even larger than previously thought, making it norway’s largest of its kind. consequently, the building site became automatically protected under the cultural heritage act.

the whale dorte mandrup
all images by mir



then, on october 15, 2020, local authorities granted ‘the whale’ dispensation from the cultural heritage act as it promises to be a site of such social significance. naturally, the prolonged process has delayed the project with the new opening date pushed back until june 2023. ”the whale’ is not a traditional museum of natural history, nor is it a conventional art museum or nature center,’ explains CEO børre berglund. ‘it is not a research facility or an educational institution. instead, it seeks to combine the best of these places, and merge it into something entirely new.’

the whale dorte mandrup



the building will be constructed in andenes, a site on the northernmost part of andøya — an island inside the arctic circle. the proximity of the site to bleiksdjupa, the deep-sea valley where migrating whales pass by, means that the area has become one of the best places in the world to see the marine mammal in its natural habitat. consequently it was decided that andenes, on the edge of this underwater world, would be the ideal location for a new visitor attraction.

the whale dorte mandrup



situated by the edge of the ocean, dorte mandrup’s design grows out of the region’s dramatic landscape. the unobtrusive building rises gradually with visitors and locals invited to walk on the roof. from here guests will have unspoiled views of the ocean, the mountains, the midnight sun, or even the northern lights. the curved roof is covered with stones that will naturally patinate over time, underlining the connection between the landscape and the building.

the whale dorte mandrup



internally, the building will house exhibition spaces, offices, a café, and a store. large windows that open toward the archipelago create a visual connection between the exhibition spaces and their vast natural surroundings. new images show the interior of the building, highlighting the visitor experience. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

'the whale' by dorte mandrup gets green light as new images revealed



project info:


name: the whale
location: andenes, norway
client: the whale AS
design: dorte mandrup together with marianne levinsen landskab, JAC studio, thornton tomasetti, AT plan & arkitektur, nils øien, and anders kold
renderings: mir

status: completion scheduled for june 2023