Norway’s New Arctic Attraction Promises a Whale’s Tale

01.16.20 | By
Norway’s New Arctic Attraction Promises a Whale’s Tale

Forging into a new year, architectural buffs and nature lovers alike will have something to look forward in the arriving decade when the Norwegian island of Andøya becomes host to a dramatic architectural expression celebrating the surrounding landscape and its local aquatic denizens. In 2022 Danish architect Dorte Mandrup’s The Whale is to become “a world class attraction celebrating whales and their relationship with man through science and art”.

“Large windows that open toward the archipelago underline the connection between landscape and building and create a visual connection between the exhibition spaces and the vast natural surroundings.”

Located three hundred kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, in the small town of Andenes, a small population located at furthest tip of Norway’s Andøya island is where Mandrup’s The Whale will find its dramatic home – a site where the austere beauty of ocean and rocky shore presents an undeniable challenge for any construction, let alone an enormous undulating parabolic form structure slated to host exhibition spaces, cafe, store, and adjoining offices under its cavernous stone covered roofline. Andøya was specifically chosen for its proximity to a deep-sea valley frequently visited by migrating whales offshore, offering visitors an intimate opportunity to observe the ocean mammals in their natural environment.

It was back in the spring of 2019 when The Whale AS invited architectural firms to design a new attraction for the island Andøya in Northern Norway, eventually choosing Dorte Mandrup’s design for her sensitive appreciation for both the shore and marine ecosystems in her parabolic structure designed to dissolve the lines between landscape and building.

Located this far North, Andøya is a unique place and The Whale an extraordinary project. Not only will we be creating architecture in yet another remarkable landscape, but we will also take part in increasing the understanding of whales and preservation of marine life. Right here on the edge of the ocean, we will be making a mark in a magnificent and ancient landscape. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility, which is extremely motivating and inspiring.

– Dorte Mandrup

The other competition entrant designs are similarly interesting in their attempts to marry a monumental exhibition space to an even greater monumental landscape, but Mandrup’s flowing and growing proposal deservedly won for keeping intact a sense of place unique to the Arctic landscape.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at