The human element: Henning Larsen Architects wins European Prize for Architecture
Since it was founded back in 2010, the European Prize for Architecture has been awarded annually in recognition of European architects and architecture firms whose works show “vision, engagement and a deep respect for mankind and the social and physical environment”. This year, the accolade went to Henning Larsen Architects – founded by Danish architect Henning Larsen in 1959 – in recognition of all of its work. The prize was awarded by US architectural patron Christian K. Narkiewicz-Laine and his Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies in Dublin.
European Prize for Architecture: Henning Larsen Architects design for quality of life and sustainability
Sustainability and quality of life are central to the work of Henning Larsen Architects. The firm has designed numerous public and residential buildings that put the needs and wellbeing of their future inhabitants at the centre of the architectural planning process, including the Eysturkommuna Town Hall in 2018 and Malmö City Library in 1999. The firm’s signature contemporary Scandinavian style has been woven into countless buildings all around the world.
From Iceland to Hong Kong: Danish architecture conquers the world
In 2013, the firm won the Mies van der Rohe Prize for its design of the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. Since its conception, the building’s complex honeycomb facade has become an emblem for Iceland. More than 8000 hexagonal glass panes refract the daylight, reflecting bright and pastel rays of light into the interior – producing a concert hall that not only delivers an outstanding acoustic experience, but a fascinating and intricate light show too.
The French International School in Hong Kong, completed in 2018, was also designed with community and wellbeing in mind. In this building, too, the architects came up with an extraordinary facade made up of multi-coloured ceramic tiles to set the building apart.
The campus – which can accommodate around 1100 students – is comprised of three separate buildings connected by bridges. It uses clever interior space concepts, a calming and harmonious design and ample natural daylight to create the perfect learning environment.
Further evidence that sustainability is a topic with strong roots at Henning Larsen Architects is provided by the Moesgaard Museum, which features a grass-covered roof designed to blend in harmoniously with its surroundings. In summer, the green space can be used as a picnic area; in the winter, it’s used for sledding.
In spite of its clear lines and otherwise austere aesthetic, the grass-covered building seamlessly merges with its rural environment. In 2015, the firm won the Civic Trust Award for this building.
Henning Larsen Architects: From inception to the present day
Henning Larsen founded his company in 1959 – so it has won the European Prize for Architecture in the year of its 60th anniversary. Larsen completed his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1952, and later returned to this institution as a professor in the School of Architecture.
Since his death in 2013, the studio has been headed up by Mette Kynne Frandsen and Louis Becker. Henning Larsen Architects is the second firm from Denmark to win the European Prize for Architecture, after Bjarke Ingels. Other prize winners have included Alessandro Mendini, Manuelle Gautrand and Sergei Tchoban.
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