designboom interviews louis becker of henning larsen architects

designboom interviews louis becker of henning larsen architects


designboom interviews louis becker of henning larsen architects
portrait by agnete schlichtkrull

 

 

 

louis becker is design director and principal partner at henning larsen architects. he has been part of the management team since 1998 and has been responsible for the company’s activities on the global market. becker has been one of the driving forces behind a number of large danish and international projects – from significant building icons to complex masterplans.

 



in this recent interview, the architect discusses working alongside the late henning larsen, the role of the architect in today’s society, and which projects have given him the most satisfaction.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
harpa, a concert hall and conference center in reykjavik, iceland
image © nic lehoux

 

 

 

designboom: what originally made you want to study architecture and become an architect?

 

louis becker: I was not much into the academic subjects in school, but the relation between theory and practice has always fascinated me. ever since I was a child, I have created things with my mind and hands. I played with LEGO a lot. that was a good foundation stone for my further studies.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
moesgaard museum in aarhus, denmark
image © martin schubert

 

 

 

DB: what particular aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?

 

LB: during my studies, I ran my own, small construction company. that taught me a lot about constructions and building processes. I still use that knowledge on site when discussing different solutions with the entrepreneurs.

 

later I started working as an young architect for mr. larsen. that was in 1989. his way of cooperating and developing architecture shaped me a great deal. he did not give a damn about seniority. if an intern came up with the best answer to a brief that was what we would go with. every day I aim to practice that philosophy.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
louis becker in canada lecturing at university of waterloo
image © fred hunsberger

 

 

 

DB: overall, what would you say is your strongest asset and how have you developed that skill over time?

 

LB: we always produce a wide range of concepts and ideas for each of our projects. I guess one of my strongest assets is my sense for detecting the best solution. the world is full of opportunities; you just have to pick the right one.

 

DB: now that computer generated visualizations are so commonplace, is there still a place for physical model making or sketching designs by hand?

 

LB: sure! a physical model is the best communicator of all whether talking to fellow professionals or the broad public. looking into a physical model makes one become part of the building – and the making of the building. contrary to a computer generated model, the physical model creates space for the viewer to interpret the structure and define his or her dreams for the future spaces.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
siemens headquarters in munich, germany
image © henning larsen architects

 

 

 

DB: is it the job of an architect to satisfy the general public?

 

LB: architects are obligated to participate in the public debate and be critical when necessary. an architect pleasing the crowd is worth nothing. neither is an architect working on his own. to me, it is the job of an architect to stage human interaction through his or her work with space and daylight.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
louis becker visiting king abdullah financial district in riyadh
image © henning larsen architects

 

 

 

DB: outside of architecture, what are you currently interested in and how is it feeding into your designs?

 

LB: I do not have much life outside architecture. even when I do, I focus on design details and functionalities. I enjoy sailing, driving or riding well-designed boats, cars and motorbikes. the detailing in small-scale design is inspiring to a building and city designer like me. part of my job is to travel around the world to present and lecture on our legacy, our methodology, and our works. traveling to foreign countries and exploring foreign cultures also inspires me a great deal in my work.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
louis becker at a panel discussion at AIA in new york, april 2015

 

 

 

DB: which architects or designers working today do you most admire?

 

LB: spanish architects nieto sobejano’s architectural concepts fascinates me. I recently came across their company when judging in a competition. their proposal was truly inspiring. talking about landscape architecture, I think, martha swartz is the modern equivalent to the ‘father of landscape art and architecture’ roberto burle marx.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
moesgaard museum in aarhus, denmark
image © martin schubert

 

 

 

DB: which projects that you have worked on have given you the most amount of personal satisfaction?

 

LB: It is hard to name only a few. I always feel extremely satisfied when I see how people interact with our buildings and transform the unplanned spaces into whatever purpose that suits them best. I know that yoga classes have occupied the foyer of our concert hall and conference center in reykjavik, harpa. this winter, the roof of the new moesgaard museum in denmark transformed into the most popular toboggan hill in the region. that is fully satisfactory.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
siemens headquarters in munich, germany
image © henning larsen architects

 

 

 

DB: can you tell us about any projects you are currently working on that you are especially excited about?

 

LB: I am looking very much forward to the opening of the new siemens headquarters in munich. the building is situated in the historic center of the city, and the publicly accessible ground floor opens up the headquarters and promotes its interaction with the local community.

 

in denmark, I am especially excited about the rising of the new nordea bank orestad. the project group’s in-house experts have developed the façade particularly for this building. the concept combines the best design, climate and energy advantages from already existing façade types.

louis becker interview henning larsen architects designboom
nordea bank orestad, by henning larsen architects
image © henning larsen architects

 

 

 

DB: what is the best advice you have received, and what advice would you give to young architects and designers?

 

LB: I do not remember who told me this, but someone once told me to ‘walk the spaces’. meaning; you have to be able to sense the spaces of a project or a final building with your entire body. architecture is a sensed discipline, and you have to practice to design without using your head all the time.

  • I am guessing its martha schwartz

    Damian Holmes
    Aug 29, 2015

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