gooood team interviews creative from all over the world. Your recommendations and suggestions are welcomed! gooood Interview NO.24 introduces Kim Nielsen, Founder of 3XN, a famous architectural studio founded in Denmark. More: 3XN on gooood
gooood x Kim Nielsen
How does architecture shape behavior?
All architecture all buildings shape behavior, some in a good way, others in a bad way. When we did the Ørestad High School 16 years ago, we realized how different kind of spaces could make students interact in different ways, communicate in different ways. So there we really learned how the way we shape the spaces have influenced people’s behavior. After that it became our philosophy: Architecture shapes behavior. And it becomes the design factor in whatever we design, we always use this as our motif and premier aim.
▼Ørestad高中，建筑塑造行为，Ørestad College, architecture shapes behavior
What do you think is the value in maintaining an equal, encouraging and learning studio environment?
It’s always about the best idea, and not about who came up with the best idea. Again, that’s something we learned through the 33 years when I had the office. It will be stupid to take talented architects into the studio and not use their talents. So that’s what we try to do, we try to get all the best idea, milk you for the best idea, and use them in our design. So I see myself as a coach as well. I am the leader of the office, I am coaching you to come out with the best idea we can use in our design.
▼3XN事务所工作场景，working sceneS in 3XN office
What do you do on a daily basis that keeps your design thinking up to date?
Curiosity is the most important thing. Just like what Einstein said ‘I have no special talent, but I am only passionately curious’. I feel the same way, it is about talents of course but you cannot use your talent for everything if you are not curious. So everyday we try to find new ways to see new things, to see problems in a new perspective, to be curious about everything, and that’s it.
How do you manage the balance of being a creative architect and an organized leader?
Well I don’t know how organized I am, I am a leader, I have been a leader all the time since I started the office 33 years ago. But I am very good at hiring organized people, so it becomes an organized studio at the same time. So this is actually how it works. I think a creative brain is very often disorganized, so its about putting it together the right way. So I try to help it by hiring very organized people around me, so everything becomes organized.
What is your attitude towards the form?
我相信我们在悉尼的作品与在纽约的作品是有很大区别的。在纽约，各色玻璃高层林立；而在悉尼，虽然是高层云集，但是它们的城市肌理却很不一样。悉尼的建筑受到著名建筑师Harry Seidler极大的影响。他对高层建筑材质和肌理的理解及实践，成为我们在悉尼的项目设计的导引。每当我们在新的城市环境进行实践时，我们都会首先观察当地现存的城市风貌，从中学习并将其演化为我们自己的设计语言。在做悉尼这两个项目的时候，我们认真研习了Harry Seidler的材质处理方法，进而用我们自己的设计理念将其表达出来。理解城市的氛围，感觉和文化并将其运用于设计中是至关重要的。
I believe when we work in Sydney, it is different from work in New York. In New York, skyscrapers are glass buildings, in Sydney they are quite different. In Sydney they had an architect called Harry Seidler, he had great influence in the skyline of Sydney. He worked with tall buildings in a different way with a lot of texture. So when we work in Sydney we look at that, whenever we come to a new place we look at what is the way to do things and try to learn from that, and interpret it in our own way. We look very much into how Harry Seidler was working with texture in his buildings. Of course we did it in our own way. I think its very much about getting the ambience, feeling and culture of the place and putting that into your buildings
▼悉尼QQT项目，与城市风貌相契合，QQT project in Sydney, being harmony with the city environment
I like Toronto very much for the people in Toronto, actually Toronto is a special city, because it has no majorities at all, everybody is sort of a minority. That’s another interesting thing. The culture in Toronto is very similar to the culture in Sydney, but the climate is different and the architecture is very different as well. There is not so much, to be honest nice architecture in Toronto. So there we actually try to lead the way to something new, to come up with some ideas about what could be relevant in new Toronto buildings. One thing we saw in Toronto that we didn’t see so much in Sydney, is that every high-rise has a balcony all the way up. Even when the climate is not for balconies high up in Toronto, higher up than Sydney maybe. But this balcony idea we took and enhanced it in a different way to make more gardens in our first project on the bayside in Toronto. And the next building we try to learn from the ships and boats on the lake, and again it is by the lake – Aqualuna. We try to learn from the big boats that are coming Toronto for the sugar factory, it’s actually next to the site, and try to make a reference to that, and to the wave and water. Another interesting thing is that a lot of the clients for that building are actually Asian, and somebody told me that it has a sort of an Asian look to the building, I didn’t realize that, but maybe it has a little bit. It works with the waves, it has a sort of reference that the clients might like as well. So that was another add-on.
▼多伦多水月公寓，阳台形成一系列空中花园，Aqualuna Toronto with balconies all the way up
Why did you found GXN? How does GXN cooperate with 3XN? What are your prospects towards them?
Founder of GXN, Kasper Guldager was part of the Danish Governments Advisory Board for Circular Economy whose input shaped the 2018 National Strategy for Circular Economy. ©GXN
3XN is three times Nielsen, and I am the Nielsen. GXN – we started 13 to 14 years ago when I met Kasper Guldager. He came with this wild idea about sustainability and new ways of new materials and new techniques. It was so exciting, so we decided to start up, I had to persuade my board that time, because we didn’t have that much money. I had to persuade them to say that we will earn money on it from day-one. But we didn’t, of course, it took a while before it became a business. Another reason that we did it was before then I was a little tired of that we could only take what was on the shelf of materials and technologies. Here we could say that something made in there, so we can look into new kind of design in new material. Find out new materials, new ways of doing things and new techniques. That’s what we are doing.
Circularity Lab, GXN and 3XN partnered with Google, Turner Construction, and the City of New York to explore the use of circular design principles in architecture and construction, 2017. ©GXN
▼采用绿色设计方案的房屋，Green Solution House ©Adam Mork
Do new ideas spark towards today’s urban public space after designing so many buildings worldwide?
I always try to the challenge the context, but of course refer to the local that’s very important. Architecture has a place, it has a context, and of course it has to play back to the context, and not to make the context ridiculous. It’s so important that when you build something it has to make the place better. Some architects forget about that. So I think that’s very important to say to all architects, that is the most important thing, and always a challenge itself.
Throughout the 33-year-history of 3XN, was there any time of difficulty and how did you overcome it?
There are difficulties everyday, if there was no difficulty, there was nothing to play up against. I think we as human beings we are only developing, because as climate changes, whatever we have to paly up against, that are challenging us. And these challenges even if they are bad or good, in a sense that we will not develop if we don’t have something to develop for. And that is the same with architecture, we develop our architecture all the time, because it has to do something new all the time, like it is in a new place, a new climate, whatever circumstances we have to play up to. What is an exciting thing about architecture is that architecture is very much in the forefront of all the changes in the world all the time. Even though it stands for a long time, architecture is such an important part of the society, and it reflects the society as well.
For 3XN, is China going to be the next land to practice “Architecture shapes behavior”?
That could be very exciting and very interesting. If China comes up with very good challenges that we can play up against, we would be so happy to work there. We have actually done a building in Shanghai for DreamWorks. I think we would very much like to do that, I think China, to be honest, mature a lot now. You can see it slows down too, in that sense it will be really good for China, because then there will be more time to really look at the best thing, and doing the best thing, not only doing a lot of things. So I think that is the best time for architects like us to come in, not when things are going speedy and doesn’t matter about the quality. Here we are going for the real thing, then we would really like to go into China. China is, I think, one of the major cultures. My wife collects Chinese Art for a reason, she is so excited about it, and it has tremendous history, there is so much to build on that we can reflect today as well.
What projects have you been working on recently?
I think that one of the latest one we won is the Fish Market in Sydney, that’s gonna be the world biggest fish market, it’s a very exciting project that is going to have influence in the whole community down there, and has everything from an industry, the last industry on the harbor together with leisure and people and community and everything together in one big thing. It’s a very exciting project. Maybe even more exciting than an opera. So I think that’s a very exciting project we are doing. The IOC Headquarter is opening very soon in Lausanne, that is a very exciting project, really telling the story about an organization about IOC as a movement. It is a building that is in movement all the time, and has a lot of story to tell in the way we design it. It gonna be the most sustainable building maybe in Europe. And we are just submitting in the last round a competition proposal for a high-rise in London, and I think its very exciting, because it has been so hard for us to get into London, we tried for a long time, and it’s gonna be a permanent one and icon building for London, if we succeed in getting it in.
▼悉尼鱼市，Sydney Fish Market ©3XN（上），www.mir.no（下）
Has there been a certain type of typology that you prefer?
There is no typology, the client has to have ambition to build a project that does something different, something special, make a difference for an area. Or else its not interesting, if it is just making money that’s not interesting, it has to be interesting. That could be from residential, opera, to museum, of course we would like to do a museum, who doesn’t want to do that, or an icon for a country whatever. It also can be a lot of other projects, for example like kid’s hospital, to do something that can make a difference for sick kids and their families, and plus the building does not look like a hospital at all. So all these are exciting things as well.
▼哥本哈根儿童医院，Copenhagen Children Hospital ©3XN
In this highly competitive and saturated design field, do you have any suggestion for the growth of young architects?
Young architects should be first of all curious and work hard by the way. See the world, travel around work in different places to meet new cultures and learn from new cultures. We should go to China to learn from these cultures as well. I think that is what matures you. When I was a young student, by the way I went to New Zealand. To come as far away from home as possible, that was the farthest I could get because I demonstrated that I wanted to go away from home. But anyway it matured me a lot, so I think it is very important for young students to go out and learn from the big world and then keep on being curious, and open.
What do you think is the best way to learn architecture?
I see the studio a little bit like a university as well. I don’t have my own office room, I go around to all the tables all the time, and talk to all the students and all the young ones as well. That inspires me and I get as much back from teaching them what to do. It is a dialogue, so I think that is the only way to get talent up for the office, the office profit from it as well, in that sense it is very equal centric. And the students profit from it as well, because they learn something from it. So it is really a win-win situation to do it that way.