Reality Becomes Art With The Whale There are 17 different species of whales who call the Arctic waters home but only three that remain there year-round (belugas, bowheads, and narwhals). However, if you were to venture 300-kilometres North of the Arctic Circle to the northernmost…
Reality Becomes Art With The Whale
There are 17 different species of whales who call the Arctic waters home but only three that remain there year-round (belugas, bowheads, and narwhals). However, if you were to venture 300-kilometres North of the Arctic Circle to the northernmost tip of the island of Andoya in Norway, you would find yourself in the village of Andenes. With a residential population of just over 2,600, this tiny community located on a dramatic landscape is home to The Whale.
This is not just any whale, either.
The underwater geography just a few miles offshore transforms into a deep-sea valley that welcomes migrating whales. It is full of trenches and passages and has made Andenes one of the top locations in the world to view these massive creatures up close and personal. It is because of the gulf stream that flows through this hidden underwater valley that migrating whales frequent the region. This is what inspired The Whale.
What is The Whale, you ask?
It’s an attraction of sorts. Part history museum, part viewing platform, part art. One thing is certain, The Whale is a sight that conjures up visuals that you never have your camera ready to capture. Only this time around, at least you’ll be able to snap plenty of shots of what looks like a giant whale tail (well, technically, the fluke) just about to slowly enter back into the water.
Speaking of flukes, the design of the building was anything but one. A single curved concrete shell is the roof of The Whale and it provides a vantage point you can’t get anywhere else nearby so walking on the roof is not only permitted, it is encouraged.
The building is aerodynamic. That is because the parabolic form of the roof only requires three support points. As a result, a large, column-free room is created. The sustainable design reduces energy consumption and with the aerodynamic roofline, snow build-up is also greatly reduced.
There are going to be a lot more features to explore other than just standing on the roof of the building gazing out towards the Norwegian Sea. The building will be home to offices, exhibition spaces, a café, store and will be surrounded by a web of pathways that will lead to platforms and viewpoints that highlight the local landscape. Other features include a tidepool, campfire and stepping stones inviting visitors to explore and spend some time.
There is nothing fishy about this structure. It pays homage to the residents of the sea that pass by and work their way to feeding grounds and to give birth. The goal of The Whale was to combine architecture with a mission to protect marine life. What resulted was an attraction that has given birth to a form of tourism that has made this tiny village in the most remote part of Norway a travel destination. Only the visitors coming around these days are a different kind of mammal.
The Whale was not a fluke but a monument and educational centre you can walk on.
I ♥ MG Milton Glaser. The American graphic designer with a great big heart. We all know Milton Glaser. Or at least, we are all familiar with his immensely iconic I Heart New York logo. Sketched on a scrap of paper in the back of…