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Two eighteenth century listed buildings in a small settlement in northwest Greenland have been restored and refurbished to serve as an information centre, restaurant and shop. Situated in the Ilimanaq settlement, they form part of Realdania By & Byg’s portfolio of listed buildings and properties of special architectural or historic interest. As part of the restoration, improvements were made to the settlement’s infrastructure and 15 new tourist chalets were built. The project sought to demonstrate how it is possible to preserve and develop Greenland's architectural heritage while respecting the local values that underpin it.
The project was in the tiny settlement of Ilimanaq, almost 300 km north of the Arctic Circle in western Greenland; an area of natural beauty on the UNESCO World Heritage List and described as a unique example of the Greenlandic wilderness and cultural environment.
More than a decade ago, this small Greenlandic village came to the attention of Realdania By & Byg, and in particular two of its timber houses, which are among Greenland’s oldest preserved listed buildings from the colonial period. Realdania By & Byg, in collaboration with the Greenland National Museum, looked into the possibilities of breathing new life into Greenland’s cultural heritage.
The upshot of this collaboration was that, in the summer of 2014, Realdania By & Byg acquired the two houses, which were the once the village grocery store and home of missionary and businessman Poul Egede. Both buildings are of great historical and cultural importance for Greenland, the Disko Bay area and the village, and for cultural heritage as a whole.
Work then commenced on restoring, conserving and transforming the two buildings into an information centre, restaurant, conference room and shop selling fish and game caught locally. In restoring the two buildings, Realdania By & Byg is conserving a piece of Greenlandic world and cultural heritage, ensuring that this heritage can be enjoyed by as many people as possible in years to come.
Concurrent with Realdania By & Byg’s restoration of the two buildings, the two remaining partners in the project – Qaasuitsup Municipality and World of Greenland – have launched initiatives of their own: World of Greenland has constructed 15 modern, beautifully integrated tourist chalets in the village.
The aim of the project was to use tourism to create permanent jobs and revenue and stimulate development in the local community in a manner which guarantees both economic and social sustainability – drawing inspiration from local values and with respect for Greenland's cultural heritage.