Please, introduce yourself…
My name is Kim Herforth Nielsen, I am principal and founder of 3XN (three times Nielsen).
What is the key information when you draw the first sketch? What comes first: form?… shape?… function?
I think they come more or less parallel. First of all, I think about what is going to happen in that building; and that creates some form – you want people to do certain things, then you have to create a form to make them do things; so – function and form come parallel, in that sense. And it’s a lot more exciting when you want something to happend (inside /outside the building) and you need that form to achieve it; and that form become lot more meaningful, and lot more exciting than just a free form.
You are an award-winning, internationally renowned author, famous for highly imaginative structure. So, when I observe the shape of your realized buildings, I should be able to see what is going on inside?
Not always. For example, in the high school (Ørestad) we made, you can’t see what’s inside. Sometimes, there are, I don’t know, contradictions between what happens inside and what happens outside. And this clasp between two things can be quite exciting.
But, if you are talking about the Saxo Bank building, there was a master plan that said that there are to be two buildings with the gable out towards the waterfront, and then it had to be something further back and between two buildings. So, it came from the outside, it’s not the story I didn’t tell, it was the master plan.
What goal do architects have to achieve today in Scandinavia?
For example, one challenge is increasing density in Copenhagen – people are moving to the cities. How do we make a better city, after you put more people into it? To make more livable city, too. And then – to make buildings sustainable in a holistic way: it’s not only about energy! I’m talking about making a building fit to its purpose – it might make it actualy smaller (in the old way of thinking). For example, when we made highschool building, we made it 25% smaller than the original brief.
But – it’s always in chances: I think – the more chances, the more and better reality.
Connection between people and nature – is it lost in big cities?
When cars came in (’40s, ’50s and ’60s), they changed cities in the worst sense. Now, we are turning that the other way around, to create more livable spaces, more activity with people coming around. In Copenhagen 50% of people bikes to work. In my company – 85%! Bike lanes are quite crowded. That makes a lot more activity in the cities, too. Besides – it’s more sustainable.
Your project in Sydney – you put a piece of nature at every roof.
Yeah. I think – when you build a building, you should achieve something that is better than before the building was built. You can do that in many different ways. And if you can add more green to it, than it’s better. I think that it is important to contribute some posibilities that were not on the site before building was made.
Thirty years ago, pure form was most appreciated; today, we incorporate nature as equal part of the building… some complain that it’s more expensive, but we should look upon it as an investment in the future?
That highrise in Sydney, that’s lots square meters on one small site, but then we animate the lower floor, so that we have more people coming to the lower levels. And we’ve created a series of terraces throughout the building, and then on the top we’ve created a public park.
Is your architecture pure art or are your creations judged as work of art, as the time goes by?
What is the difference? For me, architecture can not be “pure”, it has to be more complicated. If we don’t acknowledge that we do this for the people who have to work, or to teach, or whatever… in that building, then we didn’t achieved what architecture is: art with all functions, together with the form.
Funny thing about the Sydney proposal is that – it’s not complicated! It’s not very complicated at all. We have the core and some beams, angled, coming down, but construction is not that complicated.
Proposal for Sydney carries expressive form, is it expensive?
No, it’s not expensive, otherwise we wouldn’t have won it!
You know, the thing that I think that is important: it’s not only to make a well-dressed person, it is to do with something nice inside the fashion – to have a smart person and a good personality inside the clothes.
Someone once said that big ideas collapse due to the compromise. Is it possible to make great architecture and to compromise at the same time? Do you compromise, ever?
I would say no, not really, because you don’t make them with something you want to achieve. Actually, I try to see all the challenges and boundaries and to turn them to a better things afterward. The more challenges – the better.
And sometimes, we have to pull out, because we don’t want to compromise, either. So, what we design and what we build is very important, I think.
When you look at the timeline of the architecture, of the last fifty years (Modern, Post Modern, Neo Modern, Late Modern…) how would you call the style of todays architecture?
Pragmatic Modern, maybe? We are trying to take all the challenges, all the problems, and solve them in the modern way. So, I would call it Pragmatic Modern, yes…
And, as the last question, how would you describe your selfconcept, you ego?
As I said, it is important to leave things better than they were before. For the next generations.
Fotografije portret Ljubomir Janković, objekti 3xN