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City of Zagreb
City Office for Physical Planning, Construction, Communal Affairs and Traffic


Faculty of Architecture
University of Zagreb


City Acupuncture


Oris - House of Architecture




City of Zagreb
City Office for Culture, Education and Sport


Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Culture



MAGNETIC NORTH, the Arctic lands [From Greenland to Iceland, via Svalbard].

The Arctic has been a territory that has attracted man for centuries. Be it for resources, trade or geopolitical presence, this umbilical link to no-where and everywhere has more often than not been a voyage in time, than the certainty of a geographic point. The magnetic north, being in constant migration, is in constant discordance with its twin, the cultural the coordinate grid, and as a result we are bound and eternally confused by two never matching epicentres; territory doppelgänger. The confusion does not end here.

The surrounding Arctic states that border the  Arctic Ocean—Russia, Norway, the United States, Canada, and Denmark (via Greenland)—are limited to a 200-nautical-mile economic zone around their coasts. In this context, half way between Norway and the North Pole, the archipelago of Svalbard has been a key geographic point in the Arctic. From whaling in the 17th and 18th century to coal extraction in the 20th, Svalbard is still a centre for resource exploitation, albeit now shifted towards scientific research and tourism. Bound and pulled by geopolitical agendas, its territory being prime Arctic real-estate, boundaries and claims have only recently been resolved. On a land only 10 degrees from the North Pole and the polar pie with few crumbs left, the new frontiers are vertical, not horizontal; in 2007 Russia placed a flag on the North Pole, under the ice sheet, on the sea floor.

Svalbard can be take as an example [but not the only one] of different case studies in the same region where territories are only maintained by money, far away money. This include huge subsidies from nearby countries such as Norway, and Russia. Another cases include Kivalina, an indigenous community in the northwestern coast of Alaska, which economically depends of natural resources that are passing through a stage of destruction due to climate change and CO2 emissions caused by big corporations, including Exxon Mobile, Shell and BP; or the Aleutanian Islands, once with a  economy focused on raising sheep and reindeers and now with its economy  primarily based upon fishing, and, to a lesser extent, the presence of American military.

Money also dictates the immigration policies in a direct manner in all these small communities, as Svalbard, Kivalina or the Aleutanian Islands, among others. They represent the type of contradiction needed for territories under definition, of blurred presents and multiple futures.

Competition Brief

Open call for a design competition to envision the economic and geopolitical future of the Arctic lands.

The competition looks for a design proposal that tackles the present economic and territorial challenges in the present and future of the Arctic lands.

The outback’s and peripheries are the territories that best reflect our idiosyncrasies, dystopias and utopias, our strengths and weaknesses; a mirror of our society that becomes clearer for being at the edge of the frame.

The entries should aim to envision a critical and formal proposal that engages the present territorial normative and navigates between the strict environmental policy and the growing tourist industry, together with the constant scientific presence.

How can these seemingly antagonistic fields of action and clear political strategies be engaged via a clear design proposal? In communites where everything except fish, has to be flown or shipped in, what alternatives can be devised to cut down on subsidy dependence? Is there a strategy that can circumnavigate natural resource exploitation, alternate sea routes to the economic advantage of each of the Arctic lands? In a land where 65% of the territory is protected, who owns the territory, polar bears, scientists or other future tenants?

Keywords: Heavily subsidised, Flag under the North Pole, Frontier, Tourism, Science and exploration/exploitation, Northern passage

Competition General Guidelines

Participants must define

Submission Contents Description

Participants must send

Panels/ drawings | conceptual drawings, technical drawings, sections, plans, renderings, perspective drawings or axonometric drawings in any scale. You are encouraged to append detailed drawings, photographs of models, other charts and texts written in English that describe your project and define the questions that your project addresses and the approach as well as the direction your project takes on the topic.

Report/ text  | Your submission should include an explanation of your design that is no more than 750 words long, printed in 12 point type or larger. Paste this same text in the upload box.

Additional materials (optional) | Please note that we have the intention to publish the awarded entries in a publication containing augmented reality technology, so we also welcome additional materials that match the criteria described below under Additional contents format requirements. However, submission of these contents is not obligatory, nor shall their submission/non submission influence the evaluation process.

Detailed List of Submission Contents

Obligatory contents |

Report | Each entry is to submit a text that describes the proposed scenario, location, program and development process of a new space for cultural exchange. Not to exceed 750 words. This text will be pasted in the upload box during the submission process.

Panels | Drawings - 3 panels [format A2 vertical or landscape, in 300 dpi] 

Main Board Representative board - 1 board [format A2 vertical or landscape, in 300 dpi] 

Thumb image | Image [900 x 900 px] - jpg

Representation should concern the proposed strategy, space or building, and the economical and territorial implications of the project in time.

Additional contents format requirements (optional) |

Images | JPG or PNG 512x512 pixels minimum. 500,000 pixels maximum. PNG should be saved with transparency in order to use Alpha Channel.

Video | A 30-45 segs-lenght video MP4 or MOV(with H.264 codec) or as FLVs when they have an alpha channel. Ratio: 16:9. 

3D Models | Basic 3D models and small scenes. 3D model support is based on the Collada format (v1.4 or v1.5.).


Maximum total file size is 30 MB. Be aware of the size of your files. Files that do not meet the specified requirements will not be taken into consideration.

Accepted file formats JPEG and PDF (except for the augmented reality content).

ID registration number for each entry will be obtained during upload/payment process (and automatically used to name each electronic file of design entry (e.g. TS0000.jpg)).

All entries will be displayed on the competition's website.

Please do not include your names in the competition files since this is anonymous competition.


MAP Greenland:

SVALBARD and tourism:

Svalbard immigration: Svalbard- Visa and entr#18C6F71

Radical Arctic Proposals PDF:

Arctic Perspective Cahier no. 1: Architecture:


Deadlines and Competition Fees


David garcia

Architect David A. Garcia is founder and owner of MAP Architects, a design platform based in Copenhagen, active internationally and engaged mostly with projects in challenging environments. From flood prone areas, to arctic regions, from the challenges of desertification or abandoned infrastructure, our methodology aims to turn hazards into assets and believe that what exists is only a small part of what is possible. Designs span through various scales and spheres of action, characterized by a close association with the scientific community, as with our collaboration with UNESCO’s water resilience department, or NASA’s JSC. Our methodology engages with the natural and artificial via expeditions, where we survey and record the environment, often with devices of our design, in an effort reveal the hidden, connect the disperse, and speculate on the future to reflect on the “now”.

Garcia is editor and publisher of the international publication MAP, now in it’s sixth issue and is founder of The Institute of Architecture and the Extreme Environment. He is a Degree Course director at The Bartlett School of Architecture, Unit 3, since 2010 and Master Course director at Lund’s School of Architecture (AAD Course), LTH, Sweden since 2010, having taught at LTH since 2002. He lectures regularly and is a guest jury at international architecture schools, and exhibits worldwide. He is a graduate from The Bartlett School of Architecture. Worked at Foster and Partners, London, and has been an Associate Partner at Henning Larsen Architects in Copenhagen. In 2007 he was awarded a prestigious 3-year bursary grant from the Danish Art Council, and was the Frits Schlegel Architectural Prize winner in 2013. Garcia is elected to represent the Danish Pavilion in the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice.