I’m Convinced that Good Architecture Creates the Good Life”, says architect Dorte Mandrup in this film that takes the viewers on a journey through some of her greatest projects. In the film, which took four years to be completed, the architect talks about different topics such as sustainability, environmental impact, the relationship between the landscape and the buildings, and challenges and changes that architecture has to deal with…

Dorte Mandrup’s professional practice is characterized by great artistic talent, great sensitivity and a taste for innovation in the different aspects of the profession. This philosophy is embodied in a wide variety of cultural, sports, educational projects, housing, master plans and renovation of historic buildings. She combines her professional practice with teaching, talks and exhibitions at important universities and institutions internationally. Numerous awards and recognitions guarantee her prolific career. 

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Portrait of Dorte Mandrup_©Espen Grønli

She is the author of several internationally known emblematic buildings. The office describes her solutions as playful, innovative, and poetic, and emphasizes her experience in summarizing and solving problems in difficult contexts and complex programs.

Mandrup works in close interaction with her work team and is always responsible for the design of her projects, characterized by their innovative solutions and the provision of social spaces that facilitate interaction. Her visionary methods are based on an exhaustive analysis of all the parameters involved in the project. On this basis, she investigates new materials, as well as constructions and variations of space. Together with Flemming Andersen, Line Rix and Peter Luke, her office seeks to combine the tactile experience of the space with clarity and conceptual precision, on a large scale and in detail.

Some of Dorte Mandrup’s remarkable designs

In the film, the architect goes through some of her designs. In this article, we Will discover some of them and see how enjoyable they are.

The Climate Research Center in Ilulissat is located 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle; this climate visitor and research centre has opened its doors to the public in Ilulissat, on the rugged west coast of Greenland. The studio designed the building with a twisted structure and a wooden observation platform on the accessible deck to enjoy the views of the icebergs.

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Exterior view of the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre_©Adam Mørk

The curved steel structure, elevated above ground level, was designed to minimize its impact on the environment. Called the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre, the volume gradually rotates, extending through the landscape. The resulting shape allows to avoid the accumulation of snow on the deck and provides access to visitors.

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Interior view of the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre_©Adam Mørk

Educational spaces are especially interesting, mostly aimed at children, of all ages, ranging from nurseries, schools for the different educational stages and specialized educational centres, to houses of culture with more diverse and flexible programs.

In all of them, we can recognize basic guidelines that are repeated successively, such as the creation of both indoor and outdoor spaces that take into account the real needs of children, as well as adapted to the reality of the Danish educational system, with flexible and multifunctional spaces that allow and promote social relations among minors. It constantly resorts to the provision of patios and terraces that allow you to make the most of light and sunlight, and the interior-exterior visual connection. Create unique spaces on each occasion that respond both to the program and the environment, with exclusive designs that include in most cases even personalized furniture for each space.

Some of its most outstanding educational buildings are the Day Center in Skanderborggade, 2005, where the layout of the courtyards allows providing all the rooms with natural light, in turn creating outdoor relationship spaces at different levels, connected on the roof by the arrangement of an inclined ramp, conceived again with a playful character.

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Day Care Center in Skanderborggade _©Dorte Mandrup
Youtube for Architects: "Good architecture creates the good life", by Architect Dorte Mandrup - Sheet5
Day Care Center in Skanderborggade _©Dorte Mandrup

The restored Munkegaard school, Gentofte, 2009, allows its adaptation to the new educational system, creating flexible spaces for interdisciplinary courses where students can be allowed to interact, and for differentiated teaching, again resorting to the use of glazed patios to improve the quality of spaces thanks to natural light.

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Munkegaard school _©Adam Mørk
Youtube for Architects: "Good architecture creates the good life", by Architect Dorte Mandrup - Sheet7
Munkegaard school _©Adam Mørk

The Råå Preschool nursery, Helsingborg, Sweden, 2013, stands out for its adaptation to the environment, reproducing with its shapes and spaces the typical local architecture and the natural landscape in which it is located.

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The Råå Preschool nursery _©Adam Mørk
Youtube for Architects: "Good architecture creates the good life", by Architect Dorte Mandrup - Sheet9
The Råå Preschool nursery interior _©Adam Mørk

The Amager Children’s Culture House, Copenhagen, 2013, is an original and dynamic building where creativity is reflected both in the shape of the building, as well as in the design of the spaces and the personalized furniture.

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Amager Children’s Culture House_©Jens Lindhe & Torben Eskerod
Youtube for Architects: "Good architecture creates the good life", by Architect Dorte Mandrup - Sheet11
Amager Children’s Culture House interior_©Jens Lindhe & Torben Eskerod

The music building for the Aurehøj school, 2014, is connected to the pre-existing main building by an elevated walkway, turning to the main outer space, where the slopes are used to create a grandstand like an agora.

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Aurehøj Music Building_©Torben Eskerod
Youtube for Architects: "Good architecture creates the good life", by Architect Dorte Mandrup - Sheet13
Aurehøj Music Building Drawing_©Torben Eskerod

But Dorte Mandrup not only creates educational spaces for children but also for people of all ages, as in the case of the Herstedlund Community Centre, 2009, where spaces capable of accommodating multiple events are created.

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Herstedlund Community Centre, Denmark_©Adam Mørk & Jens Markus Lindhe
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Herstedlund Community Centre, Denmark_©Adam Mørk & Jens Markus Lindhe

Another example is the Sønderparken Activity Center, 2015, created for the social improvement of the neighbourhood in which it is located, with an extensive program defined by the users themselves, the residents of the place. It is characterized by the creation of flexible spaces that allow the development of activities as diverse as sports events and sewing workshops.

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Sønderparken Activity Centre_©Torben Eskerod
Sønderparken Activity Centre interior_©Torben Eskerod

Conclusion

After watching the film, the viewers will feel inspired by the words and projects of the architect. As she states, “There can be something missionary about being an architect and having the desire to change the world.” And I truly believe this should be the goal of every architect, to know they have been able to achieve something that can change people’s lives.

In this cinematographic portrait of Dorte Mandrup, she shows both interior and exterior spaces, and that is why it has become a fascinating story of the conditions and nature of current architecture. Everyone, especially designers can learn a lot from this film, to realize that the knowledge that one has, and cannot be articulated with words is just as important as the written or spoken argument. There is a form of communicating a message, a feeling or a thought that does not imply words, and in this film, we find that there is a different type of knowledge and argument. 

The architect also highlights that the study of sculpture and medicine helped her to guide her architecture toward the “practical” side. The form and shape constitute the spirit of the architecture firm;  spaces are aesthetically pleasing and relevant to the context, which encourages people to engage with them. This is a great way of seeing architecture, and making it accessible and pleasant for everybody.

References:

  1. Ahnfeldt-Mollerup, M. (2006). Danish Architects: Dorte Mandrup. Copenhague: Arkitektens Forlag.
  2. Ahnfeldt-Mollerup, M. (2010). Portrait: Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter-Comment-The architect as a craftsman. Arkitektur DK, 54(3), 4.
  3. Lauri, T. (2013). Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter. Arvinius Förlag .
  4. Mandrup, D., & Ibelings, H. (2015). Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter. Arvinius & Orfeus.
  5. Dortemandrup.dk. 2022. Home | Dorte Mandrup. [online] Available at: <https://www.dortemandrup.dk> [Accessed 2 June 2022].
  6. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.dezeen.com/tag/design-and-architecture-by-dorte-mandrup-arkitekter/> [Accessed 3 June 2022].
  7. Louisiana Channel, 2021. “Good architecture creates the good life.” | Architect Dorte Mandrup | Full Documentary.Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd3qkQYBUH0> [Accessed 1 June 2022].

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