UNESCO heritage centre designed above WWII bunker

14 February 2018
Credit: Dorte Mandrup/Mir
  • Dorte Mandrup/Mir



Dorte Mandrup win Wadden Sea competition

In 2017, the City of Wilmshaven launched a competition for the design of an office building housing a joint Danish, German and Dutch corporation working to protect the Wadden Sea area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Danish firm Dorte Mandrup A/S have now been announced as the winners, with a design that anchors itself firmly to the area’s heritage, as well as offering a difference in form and function between night and day and different periods of the year.

The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world, and an important area for migratory birds. The site around the bay is the perfect setting for a harbour, with urbanisation occurring around 1850. Today, only the remains of the old naval infrastructure exist, including a single, unmovable World War II bunker appearing as a gigantic rock on the seabed. Dorte Mandrup stated: "After studying the context of the site, we decided to integrate the heavy bunker into the new building. It is a natural anchoring point on the otherwise open field, which also allows us to use as little land and resources as possible. This practical and aesthetic application gives way for the bunker to act as the building foundation for what at night becomes a shimmering and open lighthouse for the area.”

During the day, the new building above is designed to echo the reflective surface of the Wadden Sea. At night, the resemblance to a lighthouse will become evident, representing the trilateral and global collaboration to save the area’s important ecosystem. The design incorporates an organically shaped surface around the building, with undulations functioning as rainwater pools. In dry periods the surface will offer a space for socialising and activities such as skateboarding and cycling, while in wetter conditions, the higher areas will act as paths between the pools.

This will be the firm’s third design located at a World Heritage Site, joining the completed Wadden Sea Centre in Ribe, Denmark and the Icefjiord Centre in Greenland, which is due to break ground this Summer.

Lucy Nordberg

TenderStream Research Specialist & Editor

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 07.06.2017. See the original brief here

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