CANactions

We think before we draw

Interview with Viggo Haremst
Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center, Reykjavík, Iceland, 2013. Photo by Nic Lehoux
We think before we draw
Interview with Viggo Haremst
Viggo Haremst is a Partner and Design Director for Henning Larsen's office in Copenhagen with extensive experience of work in the international projects in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He is a keynote speaker of CANactions Architecture Festival 2019. Prior to his visit to Kyiv Viggo Haremst spoke about the core values and approach of Henning Larsen's office, his most significant projects and the role of community in his practice.
CANactions: What words would you choose to describe your work?

Viggo Haremst: Our work strives to strike a fine balance between knowledge and poetry, promoting Scandinavian values such as accessibility and equal opportunities.

How do you define your office's design method?

All of our projects are based on a curious approach to the world. That is our culture at Henning Larsen. We think first. By engaging in dialogues with clients, collaborators, and users and investigating the context and environment, we establish a basis for making the right decisions in the design process.

What's your proudest project to date? And why?

One project that I am particularly proud of is the University of Southern Denmark — Campus Kolding. In many ways, this project constitutes a milestone in the evolution of learning spaces at Henning Larsen. The university building has innovated the way we work with the atrium as space, not only in learning environments but also in large offices, that are more and more inspired by learning environments.

What other projects are you particularly excited to be working on?

In a time of raging urbanization, I find the high-rise typology quite interesting. Achieving liveability and sustaining the quality of life while solving the problem of density that many cities experience pose an interesting challenge. Physically, high-rises are a big statement. How do you design a welcoming space that gives back to the public realm, while at the same time taking up so much space in the urban landscape? That is interesting!

University of Southern Denmark – Campus Kolding, Kolding, Denmark, 2014. Photos by Hufton + Crow
What is a community for you and in the context of your professional activity?

To us, great design is something that strengthens community and becomes of lasting value to people. Architecture is a stage for human connection and a source of joy. We use architecture as a way of reimagining our relationship to our cities, the natural world, and one another.

What are the most important values which you try to provide by your work?

Promoting a sense of place is very important in my work. A place by the water can never be the same as a place in the desert. Architecture must respond to its context — both from a physical and an emotional point of view.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges for architects working today?

Saving the planet through design.

As an architect, which is your idea of living well today?

Living life at a pace that enables you to enjoy the things in life that makes sense to you and gives you the energy to make a positive difference. If you are always stressed out and low on energy, you do not have that extra it takes to give to others.
Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center, Reykjavík, Iceland, 2013 – Photos by Nic Lehoux
Text: Olena Vozniak