Analysis & Opinions - ArcticToday

Reimagining the Future of Habitation in Greenland

  • Bert De Jonghe
| Aug. 04, 2020

How a collaborative urban design platform could help a new northern vernacular architecture emerge.


This piece is one of a series of op-eds written by the student-scholars of the Arctic Innovators Program at the Harvard Kennedy School's Arctic Initiative.

Despite the fact that urbanization in Greenland was once a tool of Danish colonialism, it is actively employed today by the Greenlandic government to strengthen sovereignty. So how can communities in Greenland explore new ways to interact and collectively experiment with alternative urban futures? I propose a virtual innovation platform that seeks to capture Greenland's public imagination to start a critical discussion that propels the future of habitation in Greenland.

Greenlandic culture has been subject to external influences for many centuries. Geographer Anthony Dzik writes that the most prominent external impacts on Greenland in modern times have been Danish religious missions and governmental programs, World War II, and the Cold War. Furthermore, a history of Danish control has drastically influenced the Greenlandic urban and social landscape.

One key example of this Danish urban influence is the 200-meter-long and five-story-high apartment complex known as "Block P" in Nuuk, Greenland's capital. Arkitektur DK magazine writes that Block P is a monument of Danish housing policy failure in the 1960s. Representatively for other apartment block projects in that period, Block P was entirely unsuitable for an Inuit lifestyle. For example, hallways were too narrow for people wearing heavy outdoor clothes, and there was no place for their dogs or dogsleds....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: De Jonghe, Bert .“Reimagining the Future of Habitation in Greenland.” ArcticToday, August 4, 2020.

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