Vandkunsten Architects on Communities


“We’ve never neglected the social hierarchy,” say Jens Thomas Arnfred and Søren Nielsen from the prizewinning Vandkunsten Architects. In the video, the two Danish architects talk about the importance of planning in a way that gives the residents “a chance to meet each other and be together about something.”

“We never used the realtor style with cadastres and gardens, and here you can be standoffish.” The architects talk about how they have always tried to make rooms as social as possible, which is in high demand today: “There’s a thirst for community among house buyers.” Though they are clear that they, as architects, can’t decide the community, they can set the stage: “In the plans for our dwellings we try to stimulate the sense of community.” Finally, the two architects criticise the Freetown Christiania for having become the worst petit bourgeois in Copenhagen: “They’re palace owners.”

Vandkunsten Architects is a Danish architecture firm founded in 1970. Their philosophy is designing architecture for people – creating housing “designed for the ways that people live, work, play, and think.” The firm works within the full range of architectural practice – from landscaping and city planning to site plans, urban renewal and renovation of both residential and commercial architecture. Moreover, they often take on projects for institutions with a social or cultural purpose. Projects include the Modern Seaweed House in Læsø and the Blue Corner in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn district. Vandkunsten Architects has received numerous awards such as The Eckersberg Medal (2014), Alvar Aalto Medal (2009), and the Fritz Schumacher Medal (1996). Moreover, they have been nominated five times for the Mies van der Rohe Award. For more see: https://vandkunsten.com/en

Jens Thomas Arnfred and Søren Nielsen were interviewed by Line Nørskov Eriksen at Vandkunsten Architects’ offices in Copenhagen, Denmark in January 2020 in connection with the exhibition ‘Living Better Lives with Vandkunsten’ at Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark: https://utzoncenter.dk/en/exhibition/new-exhibition-at-the-utzon-center-living-better-lives-with-vandkunsten-8971

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by Klaus Elmer
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Cover photo: Tunet (2015-2018). Courtesy of Vandkunsten Architects
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020

Supported by Dreyers Fond

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