Architecture that develops around us is the ambition and vision of society and the architect. Without the influence of society, architecture is just a piece of aesthetically beautiful space or an artistic piece. The creative director of Henning Larsen Architects, Louis Becker, talks in the interview about the design approach of Henning Larsen Architects, the influence of society and regional weather affects the architecture. With their stunning works around the globe, Louis Becker explores the term architecture and its effect on our day-to-day life.
Henning Larsen Architects is one of the most progressive and professional architecture firms which was founded by Henning Larsen, who is also known as “Master of Light” in 1959. The firm has won several prestigious international awards, has a design research laboratory, and has a Scandinavian approach to producing vibrant and sustainable architecture around the globe. Some of the famous projects are Moesgaard Museum (2014), Stuttgart Visitor and Media Center (2017), Microsoft’s Headquarters in Denmark (2015), Crystal Towers (2018), The Wave in Vejle (2018), Hangzhou Yuhang Opera (2019), Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh (1984), Minneapolis New Public Service Building (2020), etc.
The process of creating a dialogue between life, functionality, and hopes that have an impact on the outside world can be seen in the building Umea Art Museum, Umea, Sweden (2011). The transparency in architecture is the representation of a democratic society with equal access to public infrastructure, jobs, and housing. The transparency is achieved in the building through a glass façade which also represents how the interior spaces impact the outside world.
One of the most important factors of architecture is daylighting, it creates the ambiance of the space but with geography, the approach of designing spaces with daylight changes. So, looking into the project King Abdullah Financial District of Saudi Arabia, the building deals with a warm climate, +50◦ C in summer, and strong light. So, the building is designed in a way to have controlled daylight and don’t let heat come in. The structure of the building is inspired by an eroded hard rock from the desert which also creates a connection between public life and secured life inside the building.
Comparing the building of Saudi Arabia to the Harpa-Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland (2011) the building forms changes with the climate of the region. Iceland has 24-hour daylight in summer and less than an hour of daylight in winter and that’s the reason the building approach changes. In winter the building acts as a light beacon and also the focal point of the city, while it captures the daylight and lights up the interior space.
Henning Larsen Architects create the spaces taking inspiration and reference from nature but in completely different ways. The spaces created have links to history and also have the ambition of the society that will be merged with the building. The most important thing that the architects must carry with their building is the statement one needs to make. Without the architectural statement, the ambition of the building is not up to the mark.
Having a Nordic mindset, it’s difficult to understand the different aspects and cultures of other regions. Nordic countries face scarce daylight and using it efficiently is quite necessary for the architects. But the open mind approach to the projects with Nordic mindset and ambitions creates an amazing ambiance and great use of light in the room. Great results also come out when two cultures merge, people contribute to the ideas, and discussions are held.
Louis Becker beautifully compares the idea of the architecture of a building to be a global entity with the Coca-Cola company. Unlike Coca-Cola, which is a global company and has the same structure all over the world – it works well, but for architecture, this strategy doesn’t work. Architects need to focus on nature, the region, the culture, the architectural statement so that it blends well with the life, functionality, and ambition of the people.
Architecture is an open-minded approach to what to learn and with lots of ambition of the society and the architect. It’s the responsibility of the architect and the designer to design buildings that will be for the future generation, respects the culture, the society, and the statement must stand out. Henning Larsen Architects have projects in almost all continents and all the projects are different from each other, with the varying region, climate, people, the approach changes giving the building a new dimension.
It’s the responsibility of the designers to raise questions that start a conversation and not end it. This opens up a discussion between people of various cultural backgrounds to engage and find meaningful solutions to the problems. Architects must also watch, read, and engage with all the resources available around them to gain knowledge and understand the problems.