The theme of Signe Congebro's lecture was pedagogically correct: “Design with knowledge - the value of daylight”. But the main motive of the speech of the smiling, radiant Signe sounded brighter: "Daylight is like a gentle touch." This undoubtedly enlivened the atmosphere of the meeting and contributed to the best understanding of the Danish experience.
Signe Kongebro is one of the co-owners of the famous Henning Larsen Architects. Henning Larsen himself - "master of light" (as international experts defined his merits) - passed away last year; lately he did not bother the bureau with his presence, but always willingly and benevolently helped with advice, supported his creative enthusiasm and research spirit. His name is a brand of Danish architecture. At the same time, Signe Kongebro is sure that the distinctive feature of their architecture is not in the translation of certain techniques and the creation of special forms. Part of Henning Larsen Architects' method is empathy: as it is written on the company's website. It is this ability that they successfully export far beyond Copenhagen.
Where are Danish architects taught to empathize? There are no special programs. But the structure of life, the culture of the country in this way attunes people. For starters, you can recall at least Andersen's fairy tales: there is more empathy than tricks. And check this word in the dictionary: empathy is not only an emotional ability, but also an intellectual process. It seems that this approach to design is necessary for architects all the time, because the bureau Henning Larsen Architects employs specialists of more than thirty nationalities.
After getting to know their projects, you are convinced that “gentle touch”, “empathy” and other cute words are not just statements. Moreover, at Signe's lecture there was a confession that "for an architect, daylight is like a love affair." And, indeed, from objects such as
university campus in Kolding, you have a dizzying drive! This building, in a transparent shirt of patterned blinds, is triangular in plan. Such a plan is not a formal whim. The triangle is inscribed in the grid, the building does not fill the entire site, leaving space for the townspeople to relax by the river. Its main facade, which collects the sun, redirects flows through the atrium, distributing light across the terraces of the floors. Together with the skylight, this provides maximum natural light. “A properly chosen façade saves half the energy,” says Signe. She demonstrated the geometric scheme, heat mass diagrams, design, placement of the thermal pump and solar panels and explained that this very "affair" was spoken out, worked out at the earliest stages of work, at the stage that we call "pre-project research".
Ms. Conguebrough at Henning Larsen Architects is the head of the sustainability department, together with her colleagues she probes all technological innovations, and is looking for, as she put it, “soul mates” - those specialists who are able to get carried away and implement scientific and engineering developments in a particular facility. … In her department there are 16 people with experience and degrees, know-how for them is a daily design tool … If this happens with the same enthusiasm with which she spoke, it is not surprising that the Danish professional community awarded her for promoting a balanced approach to design and construction the title of Miss Sustainability. And as a result of a decrease in energy consumption in proportion to a decrease in the use of artificial light, not only students learn 5-14% better - they think much faster. But, imagine, you just walk up the stairs, and from the entire surrounding space, you are producing the most real healthy endorphins! This is socially oriented design in Danish.
Since Henning Larsen Architects is distinguished not by handwriting, but by approach, the company is also honored in other countries. The victory in the international competition brought them an order to develop a master plan for a financial district on an area of 160 hectares for Riyadh. The Danes invented a modern metropolis based on Arab traditions: a blooming oasis with pedestrians and a monorail road. We saw how and when the winds blow, due to the density of the building, its permeability, the color and material of the facades, taking into account the reflected light, we “danced” a comfortable environment. Why did they "dance"? Signe, commenting on the projects, explained that "it is important to maintain a balance, like in a dance." In Saudi Arabia, they got a dance of light and shadow.
The practice of domestic designers shows that maintaining a balance, basically, implies the interests of developers and the city, developers and future residents, but in no way the ratio of living and artificial light. Energy efficient facilities with zero energy consumption are still a timid experiment for us. But as one of the examples cited by Signe Congebro has shown, sustainability is not solely the responsibility of the customer. An architect, first of all, needs to be confident and convincing. A large office building on the outskirts of the city was supposed to have a standard ceiling height of 2.7 m. The planning scheme is also standard: a multi-storey atrium, into which offices at different levels open. But in the calculations it turned out that the illumination on the floors was insufficient. The architects proposed to change the floor division, to raise the ceilings by a meter, and to compensate for the “missing” areas in this case due to the complicated outline of the atrium plan and rational placement of workplaces. The clerks were not offended - only surprised by the ingenuity of the architects.
Henning Larsen Architects know that window design affects people's health. Light is a material for an architect, which he must be able to control. The effectiveness of design solutions can be checked intuitively - it is enough to put yourself in the shoes of a potential consumer of future useful areas and spaces. But in Denmark any finely feeling artist must also subject his feelings to precise calculations. If once the Danes noticed that more light and air were needed and even invented a window for the roof, now such a mindset is fully consistent with the spirit of international conventions and agreements of the highest level.
Before the lecture, I asked Signe: is it true that in Copenhagen a social agreement has been adopted, on the basis of which, for example, all the lower floors of buildings must be transparent - so that people can see each other from the outside and from the inside? In response, the distinguished guest explained that there is no such requirement, it is important to provide visual comfort for pedestrians at the level of the first two floors, to provide an opportunity to use these floors or facade elements to create public spaces. As an example, she cited a bank building with strong stone walls, the configuration of the facade of which also made it possible to arrange recreation areas for the townspeople.
Signe spoke about the climate plan for Copenhagen: it includes 15 directions and the main commitment is to turn the city into the world's first capital with zero carbon dioxide emissions. In essence, this means - to develop not to the detriment of the environment: exhale no more than the trees have time to produce fresh air. And with nearly 40% of CO2 emissions coming from the construction industry, designers must be smart at the start. The transparency and permeability of the first floors are in favor of the sun and every citizen. Everyone - after all, as you know, the competition of cities in the world for the title of the most comfortable for life is by no means formal. An environmentally friendly city must be well-designed.
"How do you feel about the use of tinted glass?" - asked Signe from the audience. “Bad,” Conguebro replied. - It is more honest to put up a wall. In the 1980s, these filter windows were abused in Denmark - over time, all these buildings look unimportant. " In general, Signe urges you to carefully choose glass and its shades: all this loads interiors with dubious reflexes, corrects color perception and does not contribute to a healthy atmosphere.
I shared my impressions with Signe about
the Der Spiegel building at the tip of Hamburg's Hafen City. In truth, my friends and I did not know then that this glass monster was from Henning Larsen Architects, it was just that something elusively different in the environment caught the eye. Are there really any differences between German and Danish projects? According to Signe, the difference in mentality dictates different approaches: for the Germans, hierarchy is important, for the Danes, architecture is more modest. They value communication as equals. Therefore, cafes and other venues for the general public nest around their offices, and a promenade leads to the Spiegel headquarters, and the two buildings of the publishing house have moved apart to accommodate the open area. Glare and reflections compensate for the frequent absence of the sun, the facades are reflected in the canal water. In German, "Der Spiegel" is a mirror, and the architects put an equal sign between natural and man-made mirrors.
The seemingly obvious Danish games with light make it possible to solve a lot of pressing issues related to shaping, economics, ecology, health and comfort. And there is a strict calculation behind all this. However, Signe Kongebro ended her speech with a parting word: "People must understand: light is not only engineering." Signe recalled the words of Luis Kahn that architecture must begin with something that cannot be measured. Having passed through dimensions in the design process, it must eventually become immeasurable again.