Dorthe Mandrup Interview: Where Place Meets Sculpture

Rising from the landscape in a place rich with materiality and history sits architect Dorte Mandrup’s new Wadden Sea Centre. Meet the renowned architect and see a building were “everything comes together.”

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“It’s interesting that architecture exists in a strange place between the practical and pragmatic, finances and technique, and yet it needs to have an artistic expression,” Dorte Mandrup says. A work of architecture becomes a question of finding the right aesthetic solution to a local challenge or, in the language of architects: “the synthesis of the parameters you’re working with. When it falls into place, you know it.”

At the Wadden Sea Centre in Ribe, Denmark, the challenge was to unite the new centre’s functions and the very particular landscape in which it is built. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Wadden Sea is a unique natural reserve with a rich wildlife and a specific tradition of low buildings in tile and thatch, a history that the architects wanted to include in the building. Using local, traditional materials and building techniques such as thatch the Wadden Sea Centre has “a different sculptural quality than what you otherwise see in the landscape. It’s a way of developing the tradition,” says Dorte Mandrup. As such, the building becomes an expression of Mandrup’s way of thinking architecture: One must transcend the technical – “there must be an artistic message otherwise it doesn’t matter.”

Dorte Mandrup (b. 1961) is a Danish architect and founder of Copenhagen-based Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter. Her projects include the headquarter of IKEA in Malmö, Sweden, the most environmentally friendly office building in Scandinavia and the Icefjord Centre in the UNESCO-protected area of Ilulissat, Greenland. She also headed the extension of the listed Munkegård School in Gentofte, Denmark, one of modernist architect Arne Jacobsen’s Masterpieces. She is the recipient of multiple awards, among others the 2003 Dreyer Honorary Award, the 2004 Eckersberg Medal and several WAN Awards.

Dorte Mandrup was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the site of the Wadden Sea Centre in Ribe, Denmark, in September 2016.

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Supported by Dreyers Fond