"A noble Danish Material": Greenland marble extraction in the 1930s

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskning


This paper explores the politics and ideology behind the Danish-led extraction of marble from western Greenland in the 1930s. Although quarried for only six years, the material became a conspicuous symbol in a state-sponsored vision of modernity that exploited exotic places and cultures for the formation of welfare state institutions within Denmark. In Copenhagen several landmark public buildings made prominent use of it, and in Greenland a significant step was taken toward the industrialization of society through state investment into mechanized resource extraction. This unity between colonizer and colonized, the individual and community, and society and technology, followed Thorvald Stauning's program of a pragmatic, consensus government in service to society. Architects' more skeptical view seems to have been driven by a competing vision of modernity that relied on new materials, such as poured-in-place concrete, and an architectural agenda that diminished classical monumentality in favor of functionalist spatial programmes, simple formal strategies, and unadorned building surfaces. Ultimately, the quarrying of marble by Danish interests in Greenland during the 1930s demonstrates how the perception of material qualities cannot be separated from the narrative surrounding the origin of the material.
Publikationsdato5 nov. 2021
StatusUdgivet - 5 nov. 2021
BegivenhedMaterial Imagination Symposium - Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus, Danmark
Varighed: 5 nov. 2021 → …


KonferenceMaterial Imagination Symposium
LokationAarhus School of Architecture
Periode05/11/2021 → …

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