Nordic – Scandinavian culture is shaped by the constant effort to tame wilderness as well as the ‘holistic’ pleasure to blend with it. The impact of the climate change emergency on such Nature-driven imprint has been forging thinkers, innovators, activists as well as architects and designer like nowhere else in the world. We rounded up some of the most cutting edge projects by Nordic architects from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
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“The mantra of the design industry should not be ‘form follows function’ but ‘form follows environment’.”says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. “This means that the design thinking of today should focus on environmental considerations and reducing our footprint first, and have the design follow this premise.”
The studio has completed the Powerhouse Brattørkaia – the world’s northernmost energy-positive building. Located in Trondheim, 63° north of the Earth’s equator, where sunlight varies greatly between the seasons, the architecture harvests and stores solar energy under challenging conditions.
The waterfront façade is the slimmest face of the building, allowing the project to be read at a similar scale with its neighbors. Clad with black aluminum and solar panels, the façade is reflected in the adjacent Trondheim Fjord.
Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group has just inaugurated the CopenHill Power Plant, the world’s cleanest waste-to-energy plant topped with an an-year-round ski slope, hiking trail and climbing wall, in Copenhagen. The Danish architecture firm together with SLA, AKT, Lüchinger+Meyer, MOE and Rambøll to transform a social infrastructure into an architectural landmark.
“To me CopenHill is a perfect example of the world changing power of architecture. That we have the power to give form to the future that we want to live in.” Explains BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. “My son turns one next month – he won’t ever remember that there was a time when you couldn’t ski on the roof of the power plant – or climb its facades. He will take that for granted – and so will his entire generation.”
CopenHill Power Plant aligns with Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. The Finnish government has pledged to make the whole country carbon neutral by 2035, as part of a policy programme that includes a major increase in public spending on welfare and infrastructure.
The target will require Finland to radically reduce fossil fuels and peat consumption, providing today about 40% of the country’s energy needs, a rapid increase in wind and solar power production, the electrification of heating and transport, a 10% increase in bioenergy, mainly from agricultural waste and forest residues, as well as a drop support and investments in CO2-reducing projects abroad.
Climate learning was the main theme of this year’s Helsinki Design Week. “The best results are often achieved through multidisciplinary collaboration, which is why we want to bring together both the design and science communities as well as the wider public.” Explained the design week programme director Anni Korkman.
On show furniture and innovations at the intersection of design and science such as forward-thinking packaging, an ancient dye plant sustainably painting the world indigo, the world’s first microbe-grown headset and spider silk engineering technology showing new responsible paths for synthetic biology. Read more…
Helsinki itself has become a platform for experimentation. Ala Architects have completed the Helsinki Central Library Oodi, 2019 Public Library of the Year, according to the World Library and Information Congress.
The building combines multifunctional ricreative and cultural spaces as long with cutting-edge sustainability performance. Topped with large open-plan reading room and consists almost entirely of public spaces. The building has an undulating roof punctured by circular skylights.
Sustainability is at the core also of the Amos Rex Museum by JKMM Architects. The building features a series of domed subterranean galleries bubble up through the ground to create a playful outdoor landscape while optimising urban space in a responsible way.
But real effects of human activity and climate change are inesaroably showing up. Danish firm Henning Larsen has inaugurated the new town-hall of Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost city, just 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Sitting atop the largest iron ore mine on the planet, the city center is slowly being swallowed by an underground mine. As ominous cracks appeared on the ground, local planners opted for a drastic solution: move Kiruna 3 km East. In some cases, whole buildings will be dismantled brick by brick and carted off to a safer location. Find out more…
Meanwhile, Dorte Mandrup Architects has begun the construction of the Icefjord Centre in Greenland. In two years’ time, the partially submerged gathering point will offers a breathtaking view on one of the most active, yet endangered, glaciers on the planet. Read more…
“Our hope is to convey the important message to understand, respect, and protect these environments in order to shape a sustainable future.” Says Dorte Mandrup to Archipanic. “There is a reason why places like Icefjord are designated UNESCO world heritage sites: we want to emphasize this, by showcasing how to induce sensitive landscapes through architecture.”
Nordic architects vs Climate Change – All images: courtesy of the architecture studios.