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Alvar Aalto Symposium 2015. Henriette Vamberg, Olav Kristoffersen and Geir Brendeland. Correspondent: Inari Virkkala. Photos: Aino Salmi.

Moments from the 13th Alvar Aalto Symposium: Henriette Vamberg, Carin Smuts and Geir Brendeland & Olav Kristoffersen

Henriette Vamberg: In God we trust, everybody else bring data

We need to look at life first, especially here in Scandinavia where the cold weather poses a challenge. In India liveliness in public space is not an issue, but in the north places tend to get deserted. Jan Gehl’s strategy is to take the life in the squares as a starting point, then the space and the buildings are created around it.

Improving the public spaces in Copenhagen, New York and Sao Paulo has increased the time that people spend in the cities. Besides increasing the quality of life, this also means more economic opportunities for local businesses. In order to make these projects happen, you need to record date so that you can show it to the decision makers. As the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg used to say: In God we trust, everybody else bring data.

Henriette Vamberg leads the work focused on city transformation at Gehl Architects. Since starting at Gehl in 2000 she has worked with a number of public and private clients and has led many of the major projects developed at Gehl.

Henriette Vamberg
Henriette Vamberg


Carin Smuts: Giving dignity through architecture

Giving people dignity is really important. In a clinic we designed it was essential to provide shelter for people waiting outside for their turn, as there are way too few doctors and people often have to wait for hours. As the clinic is also one of the only two public buildings in an area of 200 000 residents, we didn’t want to create an institutional but rather a public building. I want to encourage young people to get out there and do things.

Since 1982 Carin Smuts has worked in disadvantaged marginalized contexts within South Africa and Namibia. The firm focuses on finding sustainable solutions which are based on economic, social and environmental principles. Over 100 projects have been completed by CS Studio Architects. All the projects are built with local materials and executed with local skilled and unskilled people.

Carin Smuts
Carin Smuts


Geir Brendeland & Olav Kristoffersen: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

In the Svartlamoen project we put a lot of effort in understanding the alternative lifestyles of the residents in the area and how to design for them. How not to lose the richness of the existing neighborhood. We wanted to create a building that could make them proud and act as a landmark for the area.

After that we have continued a similar participatory processes in our projects. We go often, almost weekly to the building site to work closely with the builders, even though this might be seen as being beyond our task as architects.

Brendeland & Kristoffersen architects was founded by Olav Kristoffersen and Geir Brendeland in 2002 after winning an open architectural competition for social housing at Svartlamoen in Trondheim. The practice works on different scales from urban planning to small architectural installations, and has a specific interest in typologies, the vernacular, restrained complexity and the low tech.

Geir Brendeland and Olav Kristoffersen
Geir Brendeland and Olav Kristoffersen

13th Alvar Aalto Symposium DO! Is held 7–9 August 2015 in Jyväskylä, Finland and produced by The Alvar Aalto Foundation in partnership with the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Architecture Information Centre Finland and the City of Jyväskylä.