New Prison in Nuuk

Nuuk, Greenland / FRIIS & MOLTKE Architects and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects


For more than 50 years, convicts in Greenland had to serve “a double sentence” – both the actual prison sentence and the fact of being sent far away from their home country, family and culture to prisons in Denmark. The new prison in Nuuk paves the way for entirely new opportunities for the social rehabilitation of the inmates. 

The contrast between tough and beautiful is a recurrent theme in the project, in which openness, light and vision, security, overview and flexibility are key, valuable words in terms of the design. The project interacts with the uniquely scenic area, while supporting the Prison Service’s fundamental focus on the balance between punishment and rehabilitation. Based on the understanding that physical environment plays a significant role in human behaviour and the impetus for development and cooperation, everyone wanted a project, which supports and contains these parameters for both inmates and prison staff with qualities to promote rehabilitation with a focus on preventing physical and mental violence. 

Architecture possesses the capacity to embrace, support, consolidate and lead the way. Generating the best possible physical environments for people, regardless of their living conditions or work, paves the way for working with architecture in its most fundamental form: analysing its elementary instruments and how, in various ways, they can create an environment for the individual person and enhance the co-existence of several people.

FRIIS & MOLTKE have worked on every facet of the building with a humanistic approach. When we speak the language of humanism, our encounter with a facility as an institution is a brutal one. It is a field of experience, which demanded a profound analysis of the process and a platform of development, prior to the creation of a prison based on compassion and respect for individuals and life.

As part of a Danish design team, FRIIS & MOLTKE and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects won the competition to design the correctional facility Ny Anstalt in Nuuk together with Rambøll as full service contractor, schmidt hammer lassen architects and landscape architects Møller & Grønborg.

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