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Nuuk, Greenland

Blok P

1% of Greenland's entire population used to live in this single building, which is now slated for demolition. 

With a population of roughly 57,637, Greenland is clearly not the most inhabited place on Earth, it seems hard to believe that 1% of the entire country’s population once resided in the same apartment building. 

But reside together they did, in the 320-unit apartment complex that was not only the largest residential building in the town of Nuuk, but the largest in all of Greenland. 

In an attempt by the Danish parliament to eliminate coastal Inuit settlements and bring Greenland’s infrastructure into the modern day, the garish and unwelcoming Blok P came into being. Construction began in 1965, a 5-story monstrosity that stretched 64 apartments wide, Blok P was an eyesore from the very beginning, and not even remotely conducive to Inuit ways of life.

Primarily fisherman, the reluctant residents of Blok P struggled to fit their fishing gear in the tiny closets designed more for shoes and handbags than bulky nets and poles. Much of their equipment ended up on balconies, blocking fire exits and eliminating any semblance of aesthetic charm the building may have had. Narrow hallways and doors weren’t wide enough for the giant fur coats that were an essential staple of everyone’s wardrobe, and the dwellings were cramped and uncomfortable.

The most unpleasant oversight on the part of the Danes was the absence of a suitable place for the Inuits to gut their daily catch. For lack of a better solution, the fishermen used the only reasonable place—the bathtub. This resulted in drains clogged with coagulated blood and chunks of fish guts, a not-so-delightful addition to the already uncomfortable lodgings.

In 2010 the government finally called it, started relocating residents, and scheduled the building for demolition. which took place in 2013. While the failed “urbanization project” is no more, it has inspired many community projects and artistic social exhibitions, most notably a permanent exhibit at the North Atlantic House, a cultural center in Copenhagen. 

 

Contributed by
Josh
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