The story tells that in the middle of the Arctic wilderness far away from conflict areas and natural catastrophes, there was a sacred place. This place was so unreachable, that one could only go there if the weather would allow it.
This place was completely embraced in water, which was a source of life and a magical medium of memory. It was known to behave differently throughout the year, which made it desirable and feared. In this place, the currents dramatically shifted the way in which things moved, and in the course of a year the sun came and left at will, altering the atmosphere of the place entirely. It was in many ways supernatural.
In this place, there was a colorful city, which appeared as if it was neatly walking on stilts, making every built structure hover nervously above the cold underlying surface.
This city was secured to an island made of rocks. Rocks that had been there longer than any other rock in the world. They told stories of emerging oceans and when the earth became inhabitable. They could do that since they were four billion years old and acted as a physical and spiritual foundation for the island.
In the city, a great mix of human and non-human beings coexisted with the mysterious and ever-changing Arctic nature. They had a history dating back so long that no one really knew when it had begun. They were known for sharing stories of great adventures, which informed other places about how it was to live exactly there.
As the years went by the place became threatened by forces bigger than anything they could ever imagine. These species came from far away, from places that had been disconnected from nature long enough to no longer care for it. These forces brought with them huge amounts of unfamiliar things, which could naturally not enter the existing cycles of matter.
These foreign species still, until this day, dominate this sacred place. They still see nature as something completely different: As a resource more than a living organism. The sacred place has taught itself to adapt to these constraints, however its magical nature is now more fragile than ever.
Consequently, the place is not as remote as it once was. Trash is now steadily piling up on the edges of the island. Larger objects are waiting to be brought somewhere else and bodily leftovers silently drift away with the underwater currents. Moreover, the community is threatened by the ground under their feet turning liquid and the rocks beneath the stilts taken away.
Although, the place is losing its dynamic link to its surroundings, there is a desire for change deep within the hearts of the locals.
The place in this story is Greenland, and the city “Uummannaq”, meaning “the heart shaped mountain.”
Four billion years after the rocks were formed and four thousand years after the first person had ever set foot on them, it was my turn to go. I decided to go to Uummannaq, in the search of a purposeful site for an architectural intervention.