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Let's Talk Architecture

Jan 25, 2024

In Herlev, a suburb of Copenhagen, the site of a former asphalt factory is being transformed into a new housing area. At first glance, this is a building site like many others, dominated by cranes, concrete and safety helmets. But in fact, a pilot project out of the ordinary is taking place here. Leaded by innovation agency NXT, the project invites artists to analyze the site that is being transformed. By interacting with the local biodiversity, diving into the landscape’s history, and arranging experimental workshops, the project uses art as a method of measuring some of the factors, we would normally find unmeasurable: The aesthetic, historical and sense-evoking traits of a place.  

The project is part of Desire – an Irresistible Circular Society, a contribution to EU’s New European Bauhaus initiative, launched in 2020 to create sustainable, inclusive, and attractive solutions for city planning and construction. In line with the EU initiative, the project in Herlev aims to gain a different (and maybe even deeper) understanding of the site before it is developed – the idea being, that a green transition of the construction industry and its conventions requires unconventional new approaches.  

But what kind of value can artists bring to the building site, normally characterized by hardcore calculations, strict timelines, and excel sheet-loving construction managers? And how do you take care of the existing qualities of a place while transforming it? 

Take a listen to this episode of Let’s Talk Architecture, where host Michael Booth meets Madeleine Kate McGowan, artist, speculative designer, and artistic leader at NXT.

Let’s Talk Architecture is a podcast by Danish Architecture Center, with sound edits by Munch Studio.