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27


BUILDING PROJECTS


WADDEN SEA CENTRE RIBE, DENMARK


A sculpture in straw


James Parker reports on the new visitor centre designed by architect Dorte Mandrup to provide a historic affinity with its protected coastal location, while also offering some strong new design statements of its own


Denmark, providing an often dramatically bleak, flat landscape but also playing a vital role in supporting wildlife. As many as 15 million birds migrating south from the arctic tundra make what is often their only stop here to feed at low tide, and the area’s importance has led to it being protected with UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2014.


T


The new visitors centre designed by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup displays her practice’s flair for using natural materi- als in new and often sculptural ways, but also a combination of creativity and subtlety to make the building sit happily in its context. Both of these traits were highly beneficial in realising the resulting striking yet subtle form, topped by an angled thatch roof, in its prominent seaside location a few miles from Denmark’s oldest town, Ribe. With the Wadden Sea having been home to large populations of Vikings, the new design is on one level an attempt to provide a more faithful interpretation of the Viking farmhouse-around-a courtyard typology than that offered by the previous three-wing centre built on this site in the 1990s. According to Dorte Mandrup the building that hers largely replaces was an unsuccessful mish-mash: “Everything was a bit out of proportion, and the red roof and white exterior of the brick buildings was not really in the tradition of the area. It was more like a city house.” The architects were keen to provide something which was more in keeping with the area and provided a more fitting reinterpretation of the region’s architectural heritage.


ADF MAY 2017 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


he Wadden Sea is a vast coastal wetland stretching from the Netherlands to north western


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