“What does it really mean to have a home?”

The final winners of the Nordic Built Challenge are Adam Khan Architects in London, together with Daniel Serafimovski Architects, Kristine Jensens Tegnestue and Price & Myers. Below you can read an interview with Adam Khan, representing the very happy team behind the project Ellebo Garden Room.
Published 17/10/2013 | Last updated 17/10/2013

 

Why did your team chose to enter the Nordic Built Challenge?

Firstly, the Nordic Built Challenge reflects our own point of view; social, economic and environmental sustainability are intimately linked and reinforce one another. The role of architecture in this new way of looking at sustainability is often undermined, but we believe that it can play an important role. Secondly, the issues in the Danish part of the competition are very familiar to us. There is a lot of similar housing stock – in Britain and elsewhere – that offers a poor environment for the residents. High-quality accessible and affordable housing is essential for a social democracy, and we saw the Nordic Built Challenge as a chance to work with this matter in a bigger scale – trying to answer the question what does it really mean to have a home?

 

 

Point out a certain thing with the building that you found especially challenging – and explain how you solved this.

We knew that it was very important to be able to keep the residents in their flats during any refurbishment. At a personal level, this minimizes the terrible emotional upheaval of being relocated and at a wider scale protects the continuity and stability of the community. This gave us a challenge to improve the internal quality of the flats, as we wanted to do more than simply change the skin of the building. By working closely with engineers and manufacturers and really studying the original and existing drawings, we have managed to find low-cost, low-impact ways of improving the flats in really significant ways.

 

 

What are your reflections on the Nordic Built Charter?

We found it very valuable to have the ideals stated in the Nordic Built Charter in a way that is clear, but still open for interpretation. It is a way to measure achievements without going too much into technical details. We were also very fond of the holistic approach, that it covers the social and economic aspects as well. Personally, I could definitely see it being rolled out elsewhere – outside the Nordic region – and I would love for the British government to take it in as well.


 

And if you would compare the Nordic and the British way of building?

It seems to me that the Nordic construction industry is much more organized and professional than the British. There is a larger awareness of building standards in general. A community is seen as something very valuable, as if the pride of the welfare state should be celebrated and reflected in the buildings that people live in. Actually, I have yet not found any downsides to the Nordic way – perhaps I am still on some kind of Nordic honeymoon!