This Whale Watching Centre Will Leave You Stunned

Beating out several competitors, this is the breathtaking design for 'The Whale', a facility that will arrive on Norwegian shores in 2022
Artist's depiction of The Whale's shimmering facade
Artist's depiction of The Whale's shimmering facade

Andenes is a small village on the island of Andøy, Norway. A mere 1.77 sq km in area, the settlement has quickly emerged as a prime whale watching destination due to its geographic location. How, you may ask 

Just 10 kilometres away from its shores, the continental shelf dives into the ocean, making it a point for swells of cold, nutritious waters to rise. This guarantees schools of fish and krill in a small area, and therefore, the flocking of migratory whales who come to feed on them. Seeing the potential in this little dot in the Arctic Circle, the Andøy Municipal Government began a science-meets-art project called &lsquoThe Whale&rsquo, and part of it was a design competition to visualise a whale-watching facility that could effortlessly blend into the volcanic landscape. 

&ldquoThroughout three decades we&rsquove learned that the (sighting of) big sperm whales who reside northwest of Andenes, is a stable phenomenon. We have let several hundred thousand guests from all over the world get close to the world&rsquos largest toothed whale, and thus created enthusiasm...and...develop a world-class travel experience,&rdquo says Jonni Helge Solsvik, the mayor of Andøy. &ldquoThis gives us a unique starting point to...give the world a whole new attraction where the whale is focal point.&rdquo 

The results of the contest have come out, and Danish firm Dorte Mandrup has bagged the top prize with a pillarless, aerodynamic design for a whale watching hub that combines beauty and efficiency. They recently released artist's renderings of what visitors can expect once the structure is complete.

Designed in the form of a minimalist whale, &lsquoThe Whale&rsquo will be built to combat the turbulence and snow buildup of the harsh Arctic landscape. A viewing gallery and activity centre, it will allow visitors and locals to take strolls on its curved roof, from where they can enjoy watching baleen whales feed and swim in the archipelago. Of course, the midnight sun and the northern lights will provide company. Scandinavian countries are majorly ahead of the curve in terms of promoting sustainability, and &lsquoThe Whale&rsquo will be no different&mdashthe curvature will allow for minimal surface area and use of materials, which will help control energy consumption. 

Inside, &lsquoThe Whale&rsquo will offer exhibition spaces, more cosy viewing points, offices, a café and a store, while well-appointed paths, platforms and viewpoints will highlight the landscape. A tidepool, a campfire and stepping-stones will &ldquounderline the connection between the building and the surrounding nature,&rdquo says Dorte Mandrup. 

Ultimately, &lsquoThe Whale&rsquo hopes to raise awareness and fuse adventure with marine conservation. &ldquoThe attraction will offer quality and legitimacy to whale addition &lsquoThe Whale&rsquo is also meant to combine research, knowledge and attraction, which will prove to be valuable...for primary schools, kindergartens and other institutions,&rdquo confirmed Solsvik. We didn&rsquot need a harder sell after seeing the building&rsquos jaw-dropping design. Is it too early to start packing the travel gear

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