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Enduring memories: a conversation with Lars Almgren by Alejandro Sánchez-Guijo Benavente

Enduring memories: a conversation with Lars Almgren by Alejandro Sánchez-Guijo Benavente

Intervista Lars Alejandro

Geometry, Materiality and Light as the main pillars of Architecture. These elements have been the three driving premises the “Architecture for Landscape” students have focused on during their stay in Bologna.

While they unquestionably make up for the core physical components Architecture must tie together, there is a keystone entity that rules over them and changes throughout the ages and societies: Time.

Together with Landscape, Time leaves a unique mark both on a location's inhabitants and its architecture. Two irrepressible entities capable of shaping identities, traditions and Cultures.

Lars Almgren, architect and partner of Dorte Mandrup A/S, is well aware of this fact. Good Architecture amplifies the unique experience that visiting an exceptional place should be and only through a meticulous research and design process this goal can be achieved.

Veiled Spirits

The form Architecture acquires speaks of the location it is settled in, of its Spirit.

In order to find the Genius Loci of a place; understanding the local culture, history and environment is key. It is the foundation of any project. However, studying pictures, texts, plans, photographs… is not the only source of wisdom: designers also rely on the empirical and sensitive knowledge that only experience provides.

It is this personal experience the determining factor that enriches the debate and discussions that lead to the concepts that will shape the proposal. The one that helps us reveal the Spirit of a Place and give new meaning to tradition.

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Gentle Crystallisations

The sculptural quality and character Dorte Mandrup A/S provides to Architecture confers their projects a life on its own.

This life refers to an organic condition, not only in terms of shape, of materiality… but on the way it is developed.

To achieve so, each proposal must be approached differently. No personal style nor any specific tool is imposed at the studio. Every single project is addressed individually and is deeply connected to its own research, experience and design processes.

This way, the projects acquire their own personality and identity while expounding the local tradition and culture anew. 

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Depthless Sea

A project in which the aforementioned methodology proved to be crucial and successful was "The Whale" cultural centre.

Located in the remote island of Andøya, Andenes (Norway) is the northernmost point in the World where one can observe migrating whales. Although a place with outstanding sceneries, its most remarkable and dramatic features lie below sea-level.

The study of the oceanic trenches and the abyssal landscape that guide whales during their migration from the Scandinavian coasts to the Caribbean, invisible from the surface, served as the basis for the creation of the winning proposal for the international competition.

A single curved concrete shell makes up the roof of the project, which transmits the forces to three support points in the corners of the building. This decision enables a large, column-free exhibition space while minimizing material use, resulting in an economical and sustainable design. At the same time, the shape of the building allows for a breathtaking view of the archipelago and the mountains and a direct visual connection between the galleries and the surroundings thanks to the glazed façade.

The dramatic form of the curved roof creates a balanced shape that resembles a cetacean diving into the Norwegian Sea. A form that refers to our collective imagination, an immersion into the vast and unpredictable ocean. An immersion into what has always been there yet we barely know. An immersion into the Unseen.

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