Understanding the behaviour of human beings is essential when designing lasting, functional architecture. At DISSING+WEITLING architecture, they call it designing from the inside out. Daniel Hayden, a Partner and Architect MAA at DISSING+WEITLING architecture, shares his thoughts about this fundamental design strategy and how it relates to time and value.
When user-needs, clever utilisation of space, light, acoustics, materials, resources and context are taken into careful consideration by an architect, you can talk about the quality of a building. When nothing is left out, and the users’ needs and desires are incorporated into a liveable and functional space, this is when you might even be able to talk about beautiful and timeless architecture, where the building reflects the needs of those who live and work in it, both today and in the future.
DISSING+WEITLING architecture’s portfolio includes work for many high-profile clients, including business headquarters for international brands such as ISS, ECCO, DaimlerChrystler, Novo Nordisk, Cowi, MT Højgaard and Nordea. Despite obvious brand differences and demands, most companies usually have some focus points in common: They want the best possible working environment: the best indoor climate, optimal acoustics, bright light, flexible work space and opportunities for knowledge sharing. These user-needs call for a systematic, yet open-minded architect.
“It’s all about understanding a company’s needs and values and what they stand for, especially the needs of the employees who will be using the working space every day. This is where we start, where we put our initial focus. It may sound obvious, but for many design offices around the world, it is not,” says Daniel Hayden, partner and architect MAA at DISSING+WEITLING architecture.
Understanding the values of a good working environment as well as human behaviour not only provides the foundation for ensuring a great daily experience for the inhabitants, it also allows the architect to lay down the foundation for designing a building that can function for many years to come.
“When ISS moved into their new global headquarters in the Greater Copenhagen area, they moved into a building that was actually designed by us six years prior for NNIT (Novo Nordisk IT, red.), but the strength and transparency of the core building gave us a solid starting point to finding the right solution for ‘the new ISS’. The transformation of the building took full advantage of its already flexible layout, visual transparency, interior space and acoustic features without us needing to make any significant structural changes. For users, the building has a kind of timeless quality,” says Daniel Hayden
“Building timeless value to us means keeping a holistic mindset and considering everything, from sustainable solutions and materials to understanding a company’s brand values and especially the people who will experience and use the building every day. Many people spend most of their waking hours at the workplace, so we take the job of designing the best possible environment very seriously.”
“As architects, we should also be able to talk about aesthetics. For example, what does it mean to talk about a beautiful building? To me as an architect, beauty is always a question of understanding the inner workings. In our profession, we deal with strict project plans, tight time schedules, mathematics and different constrains, but we also listen to valuable input as we go along – especially, the users’ input, needs and ideas. This is a direct way to add value. It all has to add up. It is not necessarily an easy task, but when we succeed, I think, you can experience a kind of beauty – a beauty that lies in the elegant use of the building, its atmosphere and especially how it meets the needs of different users,” Daniel Hayden adds.
Values of a Brand
Another example of this design approach can be seen in a hotel and conference centre, DISSING+WEITLING architecture designed for world-known Danish shoemaker company ECCO. The building hosts both ECCO’s own employees and external conference guests. The architectural details of the ECCO building reflect the company’s fundamental values: sustainability, globality and craftsmanship – and the construction thereby incorporates ECCO’s brand and offers users a sensory experience of the company’s values:
“The ECCO Hotel and Conference Centre is built for people from all over the world to learn about ECCO and its values. The overall architectural concept, shape of the building, the materials used, light, energy consumption, structural details and much more emphasize the values of ECCO, which is about having respect for their heritage, a call for innovation, quest for excellence, dedication to care and passion for detail. ECCO owns and manages every link in their production chain and their slogan is “We are all shoemakers”, which means that all employees still regard themselves as shoemakers throughout all of the organisation. We wanted to design a building true to the slogan, the company values and with a focus on sustainability, globality and the tradition of craftsmanship.
ECCO Hotel and Conference Centre is classified as a PlusEnergy building, as it is not only self-sufficient in terms of its own energy needs, it even produces spare energy to contribute to the energy consumption of the original conference centre adjacent to the new building.
You can read more about DISSING+WEITLING architecture in our company profile, where you will also find previous articles.