The Wadden Sea Centre by Dorte Mandrup Architects, Vester Vedsted, Denmark

 Mandrup Architects new stunning and sleek Wadden Sea Centre in Vester Vedsted opened to the public early February 2017. The contemporary building is a great and imaginative Nordic example of a crisp and progressive yet sensitive rural architecture that enhances the landscape and nature encounter.

Located in the South Western part of Jutland; Denmark, The Wadden Sea is Denmark’s largest National park and appointed World Heritage by UNESCO.

The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. The site covers the Dutch Wadden Sea Conservation Area, the German Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, and most of the Danish Wadden Sea maritime conservation area. It is a large, temperate, relatively flat and dynamic coastal wetland environment, formed by the intricate interactions between physical and biological factors that have given rise to a multitude of transitional habitats with tidal channels, sandy shoals, sea-grass meadows, mussel and oyster beds, sandbars, mudflats, salt marshes, estuaries, beaches and dunes. The area is home to numerous plant and animal species, including marine mammals such as the harbour seal, grey seal and harbour porpoise. The Wadden Sea is one of the last remaining large-scale, intertidal ecosystems in the world where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed. In spring and autumn around 12- 15 million migratory birds pass through the Wadden Sea National Park to forage en route to breeding and wintering grounds around the world.

The new Wadden Sea Centre is a didactic information centre that takes visitors below the surface and into the skies of this remarkable tidal flatland eco-system and conveys an understanding of its global importance. Apart from presenting and introducing guests to the natural splendour of the Wadden Sea the centre also offers a wide range of ranger-guided nature walks and safaris that takes you into the nature and landscape and enrich your experience in the National Park.

Dorte Mandrup Architects from Aarhus has sensitively conceived a modern low-lying building complex very much in touch and in harmony with the landscape. At the same time, the sleek building interprets and progresses the Wadden Sea regions traditional rural building tradition and typology. The building with its uninterrupted reed thatched roof and walls underlines the tactile qualities and robustness that can be found in traditional crafts and the materials of the region.

The exhibition contained in the sleek building ‘The migratory birds’ Wadden Sea’ is created by JAC Studios. The strikingly beautiful exhibition connects visitors to the fascinating eco-system of this important tidal area.

In a very beautiful staging, the audience follows the migratory birds that are the exhibition’s focal point. You see their lives in the Wadden Sea, and you follow them up in into the sky in immense flocks and out on their long journey across continents.

Through large-scale projections and detailed watercolours, you get very close to otherwise out-of-reach birds. The exhibition’s final room has an installation by Jason Bruges Studio “The Digital Ornithology” where a flock of 562 LCD screens stretch up towards the sky.

One of the exhibition’s key elements is to combine classic craftsmanship with innovative and new technology and thus create a completely distinct and hypnotising universe. Visitors can experience original watercolors by renowned bird illustrator Carl Christian Tofte, hand-carving of bird species, hand-cast bronze models, animations, games and interactivity – always focusing on the tactile, detailing and processing of materials.

Vadehavscentret, Okholmvej 5, Vester Vedsted • 6760 Ribe • Denmark

Photos by Adam Mørk

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