Chromatic Geographies of Greenland

Authors: Bert De Jonghe*,
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Greenland, chromatic, volumetric, color, GTO, housing
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 55
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the 1960s, Danish architects Viggo Møller-Jensen and Tyge Arnfred contributed heavily to a "chromatic geography" of prefab housing typologies in the extreme archipelago of Greenland (Vindum et al., 2012; Doherty, 2011). More specifically, Møller-Jensen and Arnfred designed a standard housing series for the Greenland Technical Organization (GTO), known as the "67-type houses", including colorful facades that refer to a recent past where color was linked to a building's function. For example, "commercial and institutional buildings were red, telegraph offices were green, and fish processing plants were blue" (Dzik, 2015). This linkage of color to function and land use also hints to the idea that Greenland can be seen as a "vertical" or "volumetric" territory (Dodds et al., 2016) By which color reflects a material economy firmly anchored in its natural resources located underneath the land or ocean surface. In the past, the proposed color scheme of Greenlandic villages might have been a Danish colonialist approach to oversee and control the urban and resource-rich landscape. However, today, by reimagining new color schemes, color codes, or chromatic geographies, and embracing new meanings, identities, and collective values, one could create a unique urban landscape empowering the current nation-building process. As a result, color could become a "collective" and "vernacular expression" that looks beyond Greenland's volumetric imaginaries and anticipations (Swirnoff, 2000).

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