The Arc rises out of the snowy landscape of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, like a giant alien igloo. Designed by Snøhetta, the unusually shaped cone is named for both its purpose and location.
The arctic-based project is a new visitor center for exploring the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the Arctic World Archive, a separate vault designed to maintain the world’s most valuable digital data.
The center is split into two buildings: a wood-clad entrance and lobby building that’s suspended above the ground so as to not disturb the permafrost; and the striking exhibition space that looks like a white-washed beehive, home to the main programming for the visitor center.
Getting from the entrance lobby to the exhibition area requires passing through a glass bridge. Once inside, the space stretches into a vertical vault where people can interact with digital versions of what’s stored inside the seed vault and Arctic World Archive.
The space curves into an arc, with digital projections casting glowing illustration on the wall panels. The central atrium is called the Ceremony Room, where a tree sprouts up from the floor—a reminder, the architects say, to take a moment for contemplation and reflection.