Residential at WAD

Tuesday 02 Oct 2012

Tanya Kalinina, McAdam Architects: "Architectural questions become political questions"

The Danish are leading the way in residential design, or so it would seem from our Residential panel at World Architecture Day. Joining host Vicky Richardson from the British Council, Tanya Kalinina of McAdam Architects and John Nordon from Woods Bagot in our expert debate were Kai-Uwe Bergmann and Julian Weyer from C. F. Moller, both of whom had flown in from Copenhagen especially for the inaugural World Architecture Day event.

Kalinina started the session with a brief overview of McAdam Architects’ competition entry for the Moscow Agglomeration Masterplan and the intersection between architecture and politics. She included a number of startling statistics in her presentation, such as ‘the amount of people in Russia is decreasing but the amount of people in Moscow is growing by 200,000 a year’ and ‘in the next 20 years, Moscow will have to find housing for 6 million people’.

Next to the podium was Weyer who took the audience on a virtual tour of C. F. Moller’s residential portfolio, including the Siloetten in Aarhus which was awarded the WAN AWARDS Residential Sector title in 2010. While the other panels had conversed about the challenges facing their respective sectors, Weyer took things a step further by admitting that his firm makes challenges for themselves. During the concept design for the London Olympics Athletes Village, C. F. Moller deliberately challenged the specific brief they were given with very positive results.

Weyer was followed by Bergmann who splits his time between the Copenhagen and New York offices of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). In a similar fashion, Bergmann’s detailed presentation showcased BIG’s ability to challenge the project brief by influencing the client’s perception. As an example, BIG was recently approached by Audi about the company's expansion into Copenhagen. With bicycles the transportation method of choice in this keenly sustainable city, Audi’s position in the market would ordinarily appear somewhat unstable, however during a meeting with the BIG team, the design studio suggested a shift in perception from a ‘car company’ to a ‘mobility company’, inspiring a much more accessible brief.

The mention of a new city, Orestad, on the limits of Copenhagen, generated a new avenue for discussion with the disclosure that the authorities constructed a subway system prior to the realisation of the main city infrastructure. This trust that the authorities will follow through with widescale plans brought the panel back to the issues of urban development as the root of residential design, Weyer concluding: “You don’t necessarily choose your residence through the floorplan but by the urban area.”

Reports from World Architecture Day

Civic Buildings
Urban Regeneration

Sian Disson
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