Master of Architecture
Arctic Aerotropolis is a proposal for a new airport city in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. The ambition of the project is to investigate the urban and architectural implications of the aerotropolis (an airport that has effectively become a city apart from the metropolitan area it serves) as both an economic and architectural device for generating new local markets. In doing so, this thesis also seeks to expand upon disciplinary questions regarding the design of the airport and its typology. Nuuk, Greenland, population 16,000, was chosen as the site for this project because of its unique climatic and economic circumstances. Greenland is one of the few countries whose landmass extends deep into the Arctic Circle, and it has long been thought to contain a large portion of the region’s rare earth, mineral and oil deposits. Until recently, these deposits were inaccessible due to the thick Arctic ice but because of global climate change, they are being uncovered as the ice thaws. Implementing an international airport in a town of this size, one with very particular patterns of development determined by its extreme climate, unpredictable weather and little flat land is a challenge. I propose that it is possible to rethink the airport by situating it as close as possible to the town and locating its components in the city, thus using the airport to catalyze future development and investigate how architecture and urban design can inflect, engage and link with economic development. Greg Lindsay and John Kasarda write in their book Aerotropolis that “[i]n Amsterdam, home to the world’s first aerotropolis-by-design, Dutch planners have a saying: the airport leaves the city. The city follows the airport. The airport becomes a city.” In this case, the opposite is true. The airport comes to the city, and the city becomes the airport.