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    • The Effects of Architecture Must be Guaranteed in the Long Run

      In the new book “Good Buildings on a Small Planet”, Signe Kongebro, partner and founder of the sustainability department at Henning Larsen elaborates on how it is time to rethink what it means to be an architect.

    • The future of architecture is not only about the building on its own. It is about how architects should be able to guarantee the performance of buildings in relation to a number of important parameters such as energy, health, productivity and learning. The effect should be measurable. When architects claim they want to build for people and their well-being, why not go all the way and inform the client of e.g. an educational institution: ”Our building will strengthen the learning processes of your students.”?

      Signe Kongebro talks about how Henning Larsen in 2008 initiated a quiet revolution that completely transformed the thought and work processes of the architectural practice. At the time sustainability was an uncultivated area of expertise that had to be created from scratch.

      It was about creating a knowledge-based approach to design that allowed results to be measurable and quantified but always in close connection to an intuitive approach to architecture. “We were reinventing ourselves while preserving the architectural quality and adding another dimension,” Signe Kongebro tells. At Henning Larsen the knowledge-based approach is now the foundation for a sustainable focus that is about being able to guarantee the effects of architecture in the long run.

      As the first architectural practice in Denmark, Henning Larsen set the agenda for interdisciplinary collaboration. It continues to be a thought leader within the field. The practice employs both engineers and PhD’s that research within the fields of daylight, artificial light, indoor climate, audio design and a number of equally important fields. This has resulted in the fact that all design processes are now infused with the latest knowledge about sustainability.

      “We have obtained a vast amount of high quality knowledge about what happens in the different design and climate related situations. This means that we no longer have to base our designs on pure intuition. 10 years ago, we did not talk a lot about performance. Now performance and measurability is requisite for our ability to work with sustainability. It is the currency that we deal in. The language that we speak,” Signe Kongebro emphasizes in the book.

      The result is overall solutions adapted to the specific use and needs of a building. The long term goal of this approach is actually less technical and scientific than it appears at first. It is all about developing and qualifying the intuition that forms the basis of all design processes.

      “The creative intuition is the basis of everything we do. Our work with sustainability is very much about perfecting the intuition of the designers in order for them to e.g. sketch with a deep understanding of the workings of daylight. The pen that draws needs to be an informed pen,” Signe Kongebro says.

      The book has been published with support from the Danish Arts Foundation and is about the ongoing green transition and how eight Danish architectural practices contribute each with their own innovative approach. Each of them rooted a Scandinavian design tradition that places human interaction and well-being centre stage. The Henning Larsen Projects featured in the book are Siemens Global Head Office and the Copenhagen Climate Resilient Block.

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