Episode 07- Holscher Nordberg, shaken not stirred
Hey Alina, what do you do if you run out of beers?
Visit an architecture studio on Friday afternoon!
This week we made a crucial discovery- the best time to visit an architect’s office is on Friday afternoon, when they are having their Friday Bar (fredagsbar in Danish)! We were lucky enough to be invited to the offices of Holscher Nordberg Architecture and Planning to discuss all things architecture, and enjoy their gin-themed end-of-week celebrations!
Don’t be deceived by the empty workstations in our photos- we are told that usually everybody works very hard!
Holscher Nordberg are another of the big players in Denmark who tackle large-scale developments (mostly multi-residential), urban design and master planning projects both in Denmark and abroad. Holscher Nordberg has a particular interest in the "edges zones" of architecture; the architecture between architecture. With a specific focus on the social aspects of planning and design, they create projects that address not only their immediate brief, but also the wider client- the city.
They also have a sister office that shares the workspace (Holscher Design) that tackles graphic design, product design, digital design and other ‘non-architecture’ design fields, generating a full-scope creative workspace with ample opportunity for cross-collaboration and idea sharing.
And a great way to make sure you have the best-looking competition panel submissions!
The office has won a host of competitions and awards, and although it may not be as well known internationally as BIG or 3XN, they have a formidable reputation within Denmark- a repute that was first built up by the ‘original Holscher’- Knud Holscher, who was friends with, and initially worked for Arne Jacobsen.
If you don’t know who Arne Jacobsen is, we are pretty sure they will turn you around at customs and send you home!
The firm was first opened in 1998 by a group of 4 people including Nils Holscher (one of the two current partners) and his farther Knud Holscher who then already had his own design firm. The firm was initially called Holscher Arkitekter, but was changed to Holscher Nordberg in 2014 after Mikkel Nordberg had been a partner for several years.
Nils’ brother Rasmus runs the sister firm Holscher Design, so it is clear that design runs thick in the Holscher blood!
Holscher Nordberg occupy a large space on the 3rd floor of a converted textile factory, renovated to enhance and celebrate the high ceilings, expansive windows and industrial aesthetic of the space. They are an office of around 45 staff, including architects, Construction architects (refer to our post ‘Denmarkitecture’ for this distinction), project managers, interns and our awesome tour guide Søren- the business manager (with a background in urban planning). The office is proud of their ethical internship culture (something that can’t be said for all offices in Denmark), where all interns are paid, and only 4 are hired at a time, meaning that the office is not replacing qualified architects with cheaper, less experienced interns. Whilst the breakup of architects to construction architects in the office is about 24 architects to 13 construction architects, the interns are split 50/50 between the two specialities, as are the 8 project managers within the office. Søren tells us that there are also 11 foreigners working for the firm, originating from 9 different countries. But no Aussies…Yet!
One of our favourite projects by Holscher Nordberg, and a good example of their ‘architecture between architecture’ is their project The Loop- a playground built in Værebro Park in Copenhagen that brings life and community together in the middle of a social housing development.
As described by the office, “the Loop is intended to function as a sort of social artwork – a relaxed and informal social meeting place for the residents of the area. Located between an indoor swimming pool, the local school and the 1400 dwellings of the Værebro Park, The Loop aims to create a physical and mental bridge between the different users of the area.”
The project was “co-created” with the local community through ongoing consultation, allowing residents input in the design phase of the project. This process has helped to develop a sense of mutual ownership over the project, and enabled the architects to facilitate a strengthening of the local community by facilitating a positive social change in the area.
In a country where social values are foremost in the political and cultural landscape, we feel that Holscher Nordberg exemplify the Danish values of design and socially conscious cities. You can check out the office webpage at:
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