Episode 9- Bridging cultures with Dissing & Weitling
Hey Alina, fun fact: did you know Denmark is made up from 406 islands?
No wonder they’re so proud of their ships…
And bridges! After all, Denmark is home to some of the longest bridges in Europe- namely the Oresund bridge connecting Copenhagen with Malmö (in Sweden), and the east and west portions of the Great belt bridge, connecting two of Denmark’s largest Islands Fyn and Zealand (where Copenhagen is located).
And if you haven’t seen the Danish TV series ‘The Bridge’ (not architecture related), watch it! It’s on Netflix.
So when we were invited to visit the offices of bridge specialists (amongst other things) Dissing & Weitling Architects (who were also the architects for the Great belt bridge), we couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out some REAL Danish architecture!
Dissing & Weitling architects have been around since 1971, and although they only have the one office in Copenhagen, they have worked on projects around the globe (including a few in Australia!). We were very lucky to be given the office tour by Jesper Henriksen- a partner of the firm, architect, industrial designer and all-round nice guy! Jesper is head of the bridge and transport department in the office, and his desk is littered with scale mock-ups and 3d prints of formal and structural bridge details and connections.
Dissing & Weitling have a total staff of around 45 people. Although the majority are Danish, they also have architects and designers from 6 or 7 other countries (mostly within Europe), not all of who speak Danish. The office hires interns on a regular basis, but unlike some of the larger offices, the number of interns is limited and they are all paid, so if you are looking for an internship in Denmark, we suggest Dissing & Weitling would be a good pick!
Their offices are located just south of the city in an old industrial building that has been beautifully converted for their purposes. Of the offices we have visited so far, Dissing and Weitling have one of the nicest work spaces- open, warm, light and calm. The interior space is an L-shaped open-plan layout; all connected by a plywood insert housing the meeting rooms, print facilities and breakout spaces. The exposed concrete ceilings and red brick wall surfaces are offset by black joinery and window reveals, and the plywood insert also provides pops of feature colour and a softness to the space that makes it incredibly inviting. As with many Danish architects offices, they have their own model workshop with 3d printers and laser cutters, and their beautifully crafted models are on display around the office- showcasing some of their best work.
At one point during our discussion with Jesper, he pointed to the brown leather sofa that we were sitting on, and told us that it was the sofa that had belonged to Arne Jacobsen. We immediately felt that our backsides had had a brush with Danish-design royalty!
Jesper also showed us a project they have been working on in Sydney- the Manly Harbour Crossing. Unfortunately at the time of our visit the project had stalled a little…
Usual story- politics and bureaucrats!
… but they were confident there would be something happening in Sydney in the coming years. They showed us some of their designs- they had worked up a series of design iterations for an elevated vehicular and pedestrian bridge over Manly Harbour. For any of you who have experienced the traffic there at peak hour, you will know how valuable this bridge would be for the area, and the proposals by Dissing and Weitling would mean the improved traffic situation would be handled with a sophisticated architectural statement.
If you are interested to see more of Dissing & Weitling’s work, check out their website at www.dw.dk. And if (like us) you enjoy a bit of bridge-porn, check out their designs for the ‘Geumgang Pedestrian Bridge’ in South Korea, and the ‘Lusail bridges’ in Qatar! The office just won an award for their design of the Geumgang Pedestrian Bridge, so it's worth a look!
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And until next time… stay warm!
… Or cool… depending which hemisphere you're in!