Innovation makes good solutions better
Innovation is part and parcel of the work of architects. The words are those of Lone Wiggers, a partner of the architectural firm C.F. Møller.
The architects live by the credo that all new design projects must include elements of innovation, but always based on a thorough understanding of and respect for the existing solutions, the character of the building and the client’s keenness to explore new avenues.
Working with innovation, the architects at C.F. Møller rarely just let rip and embark on journeys of untamed creative discovery, where incredible inventions are born out of inspiring sensory impressions and crazy ideas. Rather, it is all about working with known solutions and standards – adding new dimensions and constantly making everything a bit smarter.
“Our philosophy is that all new designs must involve an element of innovation. However, this does not mean changing everything because then we will end up with buildings filled with uncertainties and untested solutions. Our approach depends very much on the client’s ambitions with regard to breaking new ground and setting future standards. Clients who take a more long-term view and who have the interests of society at heart, like for example Realdania, are often more interested in innovation and in creating new solutions that can benefit society,” says Lone Wiggers, an architect and partner with C.F. Møller.
Architectural concept guides innovation
Structured and targeted innovation comes naturally to many architects by virtue of their education, skills and working methods, according to Lone Wiggers.
“Design and three-dimensional holistic thinking is part of the classic training of architects. Architects must be good at creating spatial structures based on theoretical programmes which exist only as words on a page. As designers, architects are often good at visualising new ways of doing things,” says Lone Wiggers. She continues:
“In architecture, you start with an initial idea. The initial idea may be a function, a location, a shape or a choice of materials that will guide the entire building. And usually, the initial idea calls for the rethinking of individual elements, like a unique counter or a special bay window.
Innovative thinking ripples through the value chain
Often such new and innovative elements lead to a ripple of innovation from the architectural design to the work of the contractors and the materials supplier.
“Generally speaking, suppliers are very good at listening to the architects’ wishes and suggesting improvements because they know the components and the properties and potential of the materials. Thus, innovation often happens when several good minds come together, contributing their expertise and challenging the status quo. And then there is the question of whether the new solution can be produced using existing technologies. This can inspire people to recalibrate their machinery or even invest in new equipment which they have been thinking about getting for some time,” says Lone Wiggers.
Smart building for smart minds
In many cases, innovation is driven by financial considerations and efficiency improvements: More quality for less money. However, sometimes other issues such as climate change, energy efficiency, occupational health and safety or social cohesion are the main drivers of innovation. Lone Wiggers mentions the University of Copenhagen’s new building, the Maersk Tower, as a good example.
- The Maersk Tower is a smart building for smart minds. The tower is home to researchers from many different fields, and the need for laboratory ventilation means that an air volume equivalent to what it would take to fill Wembley Stadium has to be moved every half hour,” says Lone Wiggers.
“However, the combination of functions and installations in new ways has led to a super-low level of energy consumption. At the same time, we have designed an extremely flexible building with innovative and intelligent facades and a layout that encourages more social interaction and knowledge sharing across the organisation as well as establishing links with the surrounding urban districts. This translates into added social value for the benefit of users as well as society as a whole, she continues.
ABOUT C.F. MØLLER
- C.F. Møller is one of Scandinavia’s leading architectural firms which for 90 years has been producing award-winning projects in the Nordic region and the rest of the world.
- The company was founded in 1924 and currently has approx. 350 employees.
- C.F. Møller has offices in Aarhus, Copenhagen, Aalborg, Oslo, Stockholm and London.