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The AART of redefining architecture

by Torben Skovbjerg Larsen, co-founding partner and CEO

Our mindset has been the same since our beginning. It is about redefining the notion of architecture. Nothing less. And yes, it may be a wild vision. But just as it is wild, it is essential too. Because architecture is more than just a culturally consuming product. It contains far deeper and more impactful perspectives, which we at AART are driven to release and convey.

With our redefining take on architecture, we advocate a paradigm shift from form to impact. A paradigm shift, where we promote a new perspective on what architecture is and, not least, can do. Because architecture is more than just the aesthetic take and culturally consuming product to which it is often reduced. Just make a Google search on architecture and see what kind of images you are presented with. Or dive deep into the media coverage of architecture and you will find out that architecture is associated with words such as form, beauty, art and culture – and only to a small degree with impact and value-creation.

Arkitektur og Medieomtale Infographic 2020 GB
Share of mention | A survey of the Danish media coverage from 2017-2020 shows that architecture is associated with words like form, beauty, art and culture, and only to a small degree impact and value-creation. Source: Infomedia

It is this traditional understanding of architecture – unilaterally founded in the cultural world – that we want to challenge. Just imagine if we could turn this understanding upside down, so architecture was perceived not merely as an aesthetic exercise and a culturally consuming product, but as a catalyst with deeper and far more impactful perspectives in terms of developing organisations and communities. At AART, we are therefore passionate about moving beyond its aesthetics, instead focusing on its deeper impact. We do this for the sake of the organisations and communities that we strive to develop through architecture – but also for architecture's own sake.

Because architecture risks being pushed into a corner if we as architects are not able to convey its impact. Without well-documented knowledge to hand, architecture is relegated to a place far from the top table, where the influence is greatest, and the risk of being cut back is least. Because what is the impact of the open atrium, the spatial flow, or tactile materials? It is questions like these that we as architects are confronted with when savings hit a building project. Here, we must be prepared to stand up, not as aesthetical arbiters of taste, but as advisors with solidly anchored, impact-based evidence. We owe it to the organisations and communities that we advise – and to architecture itself.

For us, architecture and documentation of its impact are therefore two sides of the same coin. This has been the case since our beginning and today it has resulted in a holistic approach to architecture, where we are constantly expanding the traditional field of architecture. Because we make a virtue of conducting impact-based studies prior to our projects, just as we revisit the projects with our impact team after they have been completed, to gain insights into the impact of architecture, not on paper, but in practice. Insights that we learn from and leverage into the development of our future projects. Always with a keen eye for, not what architecture is, but what it can do.

Effekt Generelt AART 2020 GB 09
We make a virtue of conducting impact-based studies prior to our projects, just as we revisit the projects with our impact team after they have been completed to gain insights into the impact of architecture.

We have gathered 20 stories exploring the last 20 years of our practice.