INTERVIEW WITH KIM HERFORTH NIELSEN (3XN) – Kuća Stil

A DANISH KNIGHT IN BELGRADE

They are a team of three: Kim Herforth Nielsen, Bo Boje Larsen and Jan Ammundsen. They run the Dannish architecture studio „3XN“. People in Belgrade had the opportunity to meet one of them, the studio founder, Kim Nielsen, who spoke at the Belgrade Design Week 2014 and attracted experts in architecture, design and above all – life philosophy „The Blue Planet“ will be the biggest Scandinavian national aquarium. It is located in Kastrup and inspired by the constant movement of the sea. “3XN” studio won a prestigious “Display” award for this project at the Architecture Festival 2013 in Singapore (above).

Founder and Principal Architect of the Copenhagen studio “3XN”, architect Kim Nielsen, a Knight of Dannebrog, winner of the highest architecture medal C.F.Hansen (right).

Belgrade Design Week 2014 took place at the old Staklopan factory in Strahinjića Bana street. Thanks to the persistence of the BDW’s founder and director, architect Jovan Jelovac, this was the ninth consecutive year of the event which, as always, featured top quality speakers, such as Idis Turato from Croatia, Christian Kerez, Nicolas Le Moigne and Tom Strala from Switzerland, Guido Wosca from Germany, Omar Sosa from Spain, Michel Rojkind from Mexico…and Kim Herforth Nielsen from Denmark.

Kim Nielsen presented award-winning projects of “3XN” studio. Speaking in English, with a touch of Scandinavian accent, he presented the most interesting projects which display inspiration, know-how and especially, social point of view in architecture: “The Blue Planet”, a national aquarium in Kastrup, the Museum of Liverpool (shaped like a ship, where the “Beatle” Paul McCartney gave a performance, with wide staircase as the focal point, as a place for gathering), Orestad college, Concert Hall in Amsterdam, Danish Embassy in Berlin, Swedbank, Bremen Tower, Nobel Center, Green School in Stockholm, Cultural Center “Buen” in Mandal, multifunctional space with a library, art gallery, movie theatres…(“it is a folded plane”) and the “Plassen” Cultural Center in the Norwegian town of Molde, “Bella Sky” hotel, which was featured in Kuća stil (issue 205, September 2011), Middelfart Savings Bank, “Saxo” bank in Copenhagen, etc.

On Malardalen University: “I like to use my philosophy of learning and teaching – in other words, I like to give and receive knowledge (above).

On Orestad College: “I don’t build for myself – I build for the people, the people who talk to each other, who learn from each other. That is the most important motive in my work!” (below)

He divided his work in several categories named with an English term “behavior”. Even though it has numerous meanings, it can be translated as general behavior: general learning, socially accepted public conduct, which includes storytelling, etc.

Nielsen’s entire lecture clearly displayed several references which are extremely important in his work. “I don’t like corridors. People like to meet, to get together, to communicate. They want to breathe freely looking at the surroundings, and that is why a building should be undemanding and have open spaces.”

That is why the floors in his projects have different sizes: so that the surface areas of upper levels are smaller, enabling not just the above elements, but also bringing huge amounts of light into the building. Another thing he dislikes: elevators. It is Nielsen’s opinion that people in modern society have forgotten to walk, jump, run…

That’s why he “forgets” elevators whenever he can, or places them only in towers or as a tool for people with disabilities. The most beautiful image was the one showing staircase which people need to go up and down several times a day in order to do their daily jobs!

And finally, Kim Nielsen’s favorite projects are schools. He is an advocate for knowledge, he thinks a school should not consist of just classrooms and workshops. His projects, such as the Green School in Stockholm, show the pupils and students learning while laid back on large comfortable cushions in circular “oases”. Naturally, it is a step-like structure, the staircases are wide and suitable for sitting (in one of the projects he divided the staircase into stairs and benches).

Overall, his work is about caring for young people, learning, unity and social tolerance, a philosophy he passionately shares with Kjetil Thorsen, of the Norwegian “Snøhetta” studio, with whom he is currently working on a major project in London. Just like the directors of “Snøhetta”, he doesn’t have a separate office: instead, he shares a room with 100 associates of “3XN”!

He arrived in Belgrade, the night before the opening of Belgrade Design Week 2014. The next day, after a successful lecture before a packed audience, and an interview, Kim Nielsen flew to Sydney (Australia), where his new projects are being developed.

Interesting “distorted” architectural approach: Two buildings of the “Bella Sky” hotel, placed tête-à-tête so that all the guests can have a nice view of the surroundings.

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It was a true pleasure to participate in Belgrade Design Week. BDW has great speakers and lots of creative energy and I was amazed by the commitment from the organization and their ability to create an international event of such caliber. Even with a small team, BDW sets a standard that other cities in the world can learn from. Actually, many design events would probably feel embarrassed if they visited Belgrade Design Week and compared themselves.

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