Three Airports in Greenland

The design for the three new airports in Greenland represents a unique opportunity to create a modern, inviting, and uncluttered environment that can respond to, and accommodate the numerous specific needs and requirements of an airport.

Three main principles constitute the basis for the planning of the airports in Nuuk, Ilulissat, and Quqortoq:

The opportunity to create a type of airport, whose architecture welcomes visitors to Greenland.

The opportunity to prioritise the passenger experience, with the building embracing and guiding users at the start or end of their journey, or during transit.

The opportunity to ensure a robust and flexible solution that can adapt to a rapidly expanding and changing industry.

Kalaallit Airports A/S
ISC Rådgivende Ingeniører A/S, Spangenberg & Madsen A/S
Nuuk, Ilulissat, Qaqortoq - Grønland
8528 m2
Competition 2018

Greenland is known as a continent of great contrasts, where interaction and differences make their mark in the outstanding nature and warm-hearted culture. Consequently, the design of the airports features harmonious interaction between a strong, simple architectural concept and the environment, which is the core focus.

The main architectural concept applies to each of the three proposals: a faceted ceiling that unfolds like a billowing curtain across the terminal. The dynamism, texture, and shadow play of the ceiling imitate the setting of the airport, like a reflection and textural interpretation of the mountains, fjords, and towns, which are the main feature of the views from the terminal. There will be a smooth transition between indoors and outdoors, with a sense of the landscape’s movement shifting from under your feet to above your head.

In a country with long, dark winters and bright, sunny summers, the three airports represent an attempt to create the sense of entering a warm living room after a long trip out on the ice: the sense of being greeted by family and friends and of being embraced by something familiar and comforting.

The three buildings in the proposal have a light architectural expression, allowing Greenland’s nature to ‘flow’ through the buildings both visually and physically. The choice of material on the floor surfaces helps to highlight the continuous movement of the surrounding mountain landscape that will make an impression through the buildings.

The floating ceiling, which is the principal architectural feature of the proposal, will serve to emphasise the light, transparent structures of the rest of the building, with just a few elements, preventing any disturbance of the views and the sense of harmony with the surroundings.

Building in Greenland poses many familiar challenges: for example, the changing weather conditions, transportation of construction materials, and the construction sites, which are often hard to access. The proposal for the three airports incorporates a vision to tackle these challenges with robust, buildable elements to provide an efficient construction process.