Dorte Mandrup’s Irreplaceable Landscapes
For the Danish Architecture Center’s third major exhibition since moving into the OMA-designed BLOX, they have dedicated their main exhibition hall to the work of Danish architect, Dorte Mandrup. The exhibition, titled Irreplaceable Landscapes, highlights four projects that sit within dramatic and fragile natural environments, and interrogates how these landscapes have shaped Dorte Mandrup’s architectural response.
The resulting exhibition does not attempt to provide an exhaustive presentation of the practice’s oeuvre, but rather offers an immersive and affecting experience of these selected projects and the extraordinary landscapes they complement. The first of these is the soaring Ilulissat Icefjord Center, located 250km north of the Article Circle in western Greenland. This timber framed visitor center is shaped by the extreme conditions that surround it, and will provide a vantage point for local residents, tourists, and climate researchers to witness the grandeur of the Sermermiut Valley and nearby Icefjord. Dorte Mandrup’s contribution to the 2018 Venice Biennale – an abstract structural model of the Icefjord Center within an immersive installation of arctic sound effects and light projection – has been relocated to the Danish Architecture Center, making tangible the ever-changing atmospheres of the site.
“Dorte Mandrup is Denmark’s forthcoming star on the international architecture scene. With her unique idiom and aesthetics, she sets the agenda for a new global architecture. Her poetic work is about what is bigger and much older than us humans. Dorte Mandrup gathers the sky, the sea and the horizon in one point, where architecture and nature go together,”
Kent Martinussen, CEO of the Danish Architecture Center.
The remaining three projects share a common ground in their relation to the Wadden Sea – a remarkable trilogy of visitor centers that hold similarities in program, yet each with a distinct architectural expression that responds to its particular context. These three projects, located in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands respectively, mark the confident arrival of Dorte Mandrup on the international architectural scene, following two decades of highly engaging yet predominantly Denmark-based work.
The exhibition’s main event relates to the only one of these four projects yet to be realized – the Wadden Sea Center in Ribe, Denmark – by forming an undulating landscape of thatched reeds that fills the entire exhibition hall, inviting visitors to experience its materiality while immersed within projected vistas of the surrounding coastline. While this ancient material is ubiquitous in many Danish towns on the West coast, the Wadden Sea Center uses thatch for its walls and eaves as well its roof, creating a singular and sculptural form. The Irreplaceable Landscapes installation takes this a step further, creating a horizontal surface on which to stand, sit and gather. VR headsets – now a compulsory addition to any architectural exhibition – complete the experience by enabling visitors to wander through the Wadden Sea Center from afar.
“When you place a building in a landscape, you must evoke that particular thing in that particular place, so that the location and form of the building emphasizes the drama of the surrounding nature. The three sea centers are all located in the same UNESCO protected Wadden Sea area, but in each we work with very different cultural-historical layers – and thus the design becomes very different.”
Many had reservations about the ability for BLOX’s main exhibition hall to adequately accommodate world-class architectural exhibitions, defined as it is by internal glazing on three sides and stepped seating on the fourth. This dizzying array of visual connections is central to OMA’s vision for BLOX, yet proves challenging when curating an exhibition with a practical need for display space. Dorte Mandrup and DAC have traversed this by limiting most of the more traditional content of models and drawings to a large shelving display in one corner, and devoting the rest of the space to the thatched landscape. The three glazed sides of the hall are screened to enable the projection of mumurating starlings, hazy landscapes and soaring drone footage of the Wadden Sea. While DAC’s previous exhibitions have built exhibition displays within the hall and exposed them to the other functions surrounding it, Dorte Mandrup has instead concealed them, creating an immersive and sensual atmosphere that sits in sharp contrast with the highly corporate materiality of BLOX.
The success of Irreplaceable Landscapes is in its creation of an architectural space rather than the depiction of one. The immersive installations echo the architectural experience of Dorte Mandrup’s projects, but through their visceral materiality and environmental atmosphere rather than their form. This immersion provides a better endorsement for Dorte Mandrup’s work than a set of drawings and scale models ever could, by creating a space in which to contemplate materiality, light and atmosphere, whether or not you are aware of the architectural intent behind them.
arcspace.com is owned by the Danish Architecture Center. The exhibition runs from the 22nd March – 26th May 2019. If you would like to find out more about visiting Irreplaceable Landscapes, please follow the link here.
|ARCHITECT||Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter