Wadden Sea Centre by Dorte Mandrup


Kan også læses på: Dansk

Wadden Sea Centre by Dorte Mandrup – mostly a photo post

Far from Copenhagen (I know), Copenhagen based (there you have it) architect, Dorte Mandrup, recently finished a visitor centre of the Wadden Sea. The Wadden Sea is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The buildings bears resemblance to the local building tradition and shows a profound sensitivity to the unique landscape, building typology, materials and light.

Local tradition

The overall layout unmistakably derives from the local farm typology: four houses protecting a rectangular court from the strong and constant wind from the sea to the west. Also the big hip roofs with no or little overhang to catch the wind is no stranger to the area.

In this interpretation, the tradition have been minimized to almost naively simple shapes, slightly skewed and abstract in perception.

Abstraction vs. texture

However, the abstraction is contradicted – or counter balanced – by the use of few coarse, natural materials: wooden boards and straw for both roofs, facades and outdoor deck.

I think this tension between the abstract forms and the material texture is the primary quality of this project.


The surprising use of thatching in a reinvented modern shape most definitely adds to the fascination! I’m no expert in thatching, for sure. But I think I’m safe to assume that it takes serious skills to make the lines between roof and facade so precise. Also I can only suspect it will wear down over time. It’ll be interesting to see how fast and if that will add to or subtract from the overall impression.

Interior & light

A serene interior is another quality I would like to point out. Large white faces decorated with nothing but light seems an appropriate response to the ’empty’, completely flat, surrounding landscape. It is a relief to step inside and escape the wind in a calm and silent interior.

I’m impressed and thrilled to see one of Denmark’s leading architects complete yet another really, really good building project! Dorte Mandrup seems to master the most different settings with the right balance between sensitivity and common sense, the best of the qualities of Danish architecture.


Dorte Mandrup homepage

Wadden Sea Centre homepage


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