How icebergs shape this Olafur Eliasson building
He hopes his Ice Void will make the experience of visiting a Greenland glacier more understandable for all
The Ilulissat Icefjord is among Greenland’s most popular tourist attractions. The glacier, one of the most active in the world, moves at around 19 metres per day, pushing huge icebergs out into the north-west Atlantic.
However, Ilulissat’s prodigious ‘berg output is also one of the clearest indicators of climate change, making a proposed Ilulissat Icefjord Centre both a place for leisurely contemplation and one of more sombre reflections.
Towards the end of last year the government of Greenland invited six practices, including Olafur Eliasson’s Studio Other Spaces architecture practice and Norway’s architectural stars Snohetta, to present proposals for a new building “that can serve as a framework for research, communication and interpretation.”
Eliasson has just unveiled its plans, which include an entire building shaped by the Ilulissat icebergs.
“Icebergs are harvested directly from the nearby ice fjord to create an exhibition building, called the Ice Void,” explains Eliasson’s architecture practice. “Which harbours in its walls the memory of the ice that was used to shape it.”
Studio Other Space’s proposal also includes a glass-walled Sun Cone visitor centre, which “offers guests a spectacular panoramic view of the surroundings and the Arctic sun.”
Some will recall that Eliasson installed a Greenland iceberg in Paris during the 2015 Climate Change Summit, while others may notice some similarities between the Sun Cone and Eliasson’s rooftop viewing walkway and his other glazed observatories, such as his 2013 Panoramic Awareness Pavilion. However, what really marks this project out as an Eliasson creation is the way connects viewers with near-inexpressible natural phenomena.
“The park helps make the overwhelming experience of visiting the ice fjord comprehensible,” explains Eliasson’s practice, “providing visitors with a scale for contemplating and relating to the awe-inspiring ice fjord.”
We’ll have to wait to see whether this gets made. However, for more achievable Eliasson creations buy a copy of Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen, a collection featuring over 100 creative vegetarian recipes devised to fuel the creative people in the artist’s Berlin studio.