The main building
On 28 May 1996 Minister Marianne Jensen performed the initial blasting in connection with the construction of the new Institute of Natural Resources in Nuuk, and on 14 February 1998, the new building was ready for inauguration.
For a number of years, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation of Denmark has supported projects on nature conservation in e.g. Greenland, and when the Greenland Home Rule decided to establish a centre for natural research, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation granted around 35 million DKK towards the construction of facilities suitable for such an institution. The firm of architects Krohn, Hartvig, Rasmussen A/S from Virum, Denmark, designed the house, which has an area of just under 2,000 m2. The first floor contains laboratories, a deep-freeze room, a garage and workshops. The second floor holds offices for researchers and the administration, meeting rooms, a canteen and a reception, and on the third floor are the Director's office, the Information Office and a research library.
The design of the house
The location and design of the house are adapted to the conditions and possibilities given by its position in the open landscape. The architects have chosen to construct the house as two blocks bound together by a cleft, which, when seen from within, may call to mind a crevasse with its tall, massive walls on either side. The distance between the blocks increases towards the south where the cleft ends in a large glass wall. The slight fanning out towards the south provides better exploitation of sunlight deep within the building. The roof is slightly elevated along the centre, and aluminium plates guide the low-angled light from east and west down into the centre of the building.
The shape of the cleft makes the central room seem shorter that it is when seen from the tall glass room, while the experience from within the cleft seems deeper and more dramatic. The view from the broad, southerly end of the cleft is spectacular.
The house is positioned in a north-south direction and stands with its back to the predominant wind direction, which is north-northeast, like a seal with its back to the wind and its flippers placed on the rock. The elongated facades and large window panels provide plenty of sunlight and beautiful views from the rooms in the house.
The lay-out in brief
The house has two entrances; a distinguished main entrance and a delivery entrance to the workshops and laboratories. Immediately inside the main entrance are the reception and the cloakroom. From here, one enters the front part of the house where the canteen and meeting rooms are located. From the foyer area, a staircase and elevator lead to the upper and lower floors.
On the floor above lies the Director's office, the Information Office and the library, and the floor below holds an exhibition room, which is connected directly to the centre hall. The remaining offices are on the middle floor, where the cleft binds the two blocks together. The delivery entrance to the house is situated at the far end of the bottom floor. The garage and outhouse lead directly to the sorting room, which serves as the central distribution room to workshops, laboratories, storage room and the employees' changing room.
Constructions and choice of materials
The house is characterized by simplicity in regard to construction principle as well as to choice of materials. Wherever possible, local and well-known building materials and known and thoroughly tested building methods were chosen.
The bearing elements of the house (floor and longitudinal walls) are constructed of site-cast concrete, and local materials were used as concrete admixtures. The outer walls have external insulation and cedar clapboard siding. After a short while, the wood takes on a silver-grey hue, which is quite pale in dry periods and becomes dark-grey in wet weather. The wood is untreated, as the high resin content ensures natural impregnation. The two blocks are roofed with black tar paper, while the elevated roof over the cleft is covered with raw aluminium. The slanting roof surface provides natural drainage.
Inside the house, the choice of materials has been kept simple for easier maintenance and cleaning. The floors in the hall areas are tiled, and the walls of the cleft are raw concrete. The offices, meeting rooms and library have beech floors and white plaster walls.
In the construction of the house, care was taken to ensure a low consumption of energy and water, a sustainable choice of materials and a good indoor climate. The building is oriented in the predominant wind directions, resulting in little wind impact. The shape of the glass panels optimizes the exploitation of daylight inside the rooms, thus saving energy for electrical lighting. The overall construction of the house with its heavy, bearing element within, light wooden facades, large window panes, and the glass façade towards the south ensure exploitation of passive solar heating.
The wood quickly guides the sunlight from the elongated façades into the rooms
in the two blocks, and the inner concrete construction readily absorbs the heat from the sun. The window panes of the façades are optimized in relation to incoming light and cold, and heat from the sunlight entering through the southward-facing glass façade may be absorbed in the floors and walls. The cleft construction and the elevated centre roof allow as much sunlight and heat as possible to penetrate into the centre of the building, where it may be absorbed in the walls and floors.
The passive solar heating generates a natural circulation of the air in the large centre hall (the cleft), at the same time providing natural ventilation of the offices, which all open into the centre hall. The ceilings of the large meeting room, the canteen, and the library are so high that mechanical ventilation was omitted. Like the offices, these rooms are ventilated naturally by the chimney effect generated in the centre hall.
The highly recognized artist Aka Høegh from Qaqortoq in South Greenland performed the embellishment of the canteen. She created the large relief that is carved directly into the concrete of the large wall surfaces of the canteen. The colours in the hallway were chosen by the artist Niels Guttormsen.