Kim Herforth Nielsen

Kim Herforth Nielsen, 3XN

Kim Herforth Nielsen presented 3XNt's work at Belgrade Design Week

Icon magazine, UK, 28.10.2014.

By Debika Ray

You’ve talked a lot about the open and flexible approach to teaching and learning encouraged by one of your early projects, Orestad College. How important to your architectural process is your ability to shape building users’ behavior?

It’s crucial – it’s what drives our work. What’s happening inside the building is much more interesting to shape that what is outside. The big difference between architecture and sculpture is that architecture contains people, so it influences daily life – city life, the activity inside a building. I believe architecture can change and shape behavior – there are examples of architecture that has had to be demolished because it created bad environments.

I can’t see architecture being made in any other way. If we only make sculptures for ourselves, then we have failed. But if we make beautiful sculptures that are for the community, then that is success.

It took a while before we really realised that this is what we wanted to focus on. Orestad College was seven years ago and there was no brief for the competition – more a vision of how education should be in the future, which we gave physical form. Now we have an architectural psychologist at the office, who evaluates the kinds of spaces we work with to see if they work.

When the last British government was in power, we had groups from the UK coming to Denmark to observe the school and how it works. Unfortunately, the new government threw it all away and now just wants to standardise schools. It’s so important to make schools and workplaces in the right way – it may cost a little more, but the benefits are hundred times greater.

Do you feel that architects then have a social responsibility?

We have a huge responsibility, especially now as big cities are densifying. In developing cities like Mumbai, where we have recently started working, many problems have to be solved by architecture.

Working in India is complicated. When you start working on one problem, you find another that is connected, and then another. So we can’t do it on our own –we need the backing of politicians in such countries and they need to have a greater tendency towards master-planning.

In Europe, do you think architects have enough of a public role?

No, but that’s very much our own fault. Architects have to communicate what we are doing in different ways and to different people. If we only communicate that we are doing buildings that are like Ferraris all the time, then normal people can’t connect to it.

3XN’s research arm focuses in part on reducing waste on building projects. Do you think the concept of sustainability has fallen off the agenda somewhat since the financial crisis?

No – I think it’s going in the right direction. In Denmark at least, our building codes become stricter and stricter every year, but we don’t talk about it much anymore because it’s just there – just like there’s no need to talk about buildings having to be suitable for disabled people anymore: of course they have to be.

But we are also working in north America and they are a bit behind in that sense, because there is a feeling that only tenants benefit from energy efficiency. I try to tell them that you can then have slightly higher rent, because tenants’ total savings will be greater. It is beneficial for everyone to do things sustainably.

Sustainability is also holistic – for example, you can make a 25,000sq m building that uses very little energy per square metre, but perhaps you only need to make it 20,000sq m, which is even more efficient. And then there’s the question of whether people thrive in a building, if they like being there – that’s also an important aspect of sustainability.

What’s next for 3XN?

I’m looking forward to continuing work on the high-rise we have won in Sydney. The reason we won it is that we looked at high-rise as not just a pretty dress, but at how the building works and its sustainability. We are trying to look at the challenges of densifying cities in a new way and our projects in the UK and north America are also ones that can make a difference to cities.

Read the original article here.

Kuca stil magazine, Serbia, February 2015

By Jelena Kalicanin

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.

Christian Kerez

Insight Architecture Christian Kerez

Isay Weinfeld

Insight Architecture Isay Weinfeld

Bjarke Ingels

Insight Architecture Bjarke Ingels