‘Craftsmanship and architecture have always been tightly connected, but to understand what architecture is, and thereby understand architectural craftsmanship, you need to define architecture’, says Jan W. Hansen.
To Jan W. Hansen, architecture is a form of art that is meant to be used, like arts and crafts. Functionality and aesthetics go hand in hand to create a total experience. Hansen is a professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the Aarhus School of Architecture, and he has been working in architecture for decades as a lecturer and practitioner while running his own architectural company, JWH Architects. As Hansen says, it is important to make one thing clear: the definition of architecture:
‘What separates architecture from more ordinary building construction? Architecture has a higher ambition. It’s more thoroughly prepared, and there is thought to it. In a way, it rises above plain construction. Architecture creates buildings that are thought out to meet and connect different needs and terms—there is a relationship between more things in architecture, both the functionality of the architecture and the actual structure.’
According to Hansen, the way in which architecture is experienced is different from ordinary structures too. On the whole, when everything is connected, it is really architecture, he says. Two early examples of Danish architectural craftsmanship are Aarhus City Hall, designed by the late Arne Jacobsen, and Bagsværd Kirke, designed by the late Jørgen Utzon.
Another example of architectural craftsmanship is Copenhagen’s City Hall, in which many different types of craftsmanship, including carpentry, bricklaying and cabinet making, all come together. ‘The goal of architectural craftsmanship is to combine them in a meaningful way’, says Hansen.
How much weight do you put in architectural theory?
‘Well, an architect must know his theory as well as a surgeon must know a lot about anatomy, biology and so on. You need to know about these things in order to practice architecture’, says Hansen.
In addition, architects must utilise a kind of multidisciplinary approach to achieve success. Functionality, materials, sustainability, light and programming are just some of the different disciplines in architecture, and, according to Hansen, architects must engage in a generalist role rather than a specialist role.
Overall, the key takeaways from DANISH™’s investigation is that there must be a meaning to all the parameters in a context. To state it simply, that is how you obtain architectural craftsmanship.