Andreas Grøntvedt Gjertsen & Yashar Hanstad
What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?
It takes a long time to prepare for a building like this. In the case of the Safe Haven Library we had to get to know the kids living in the orphanage, the local traditions of building and a new pallet of materials.. Further on, it took a big effort to gather a group of students to come to Thailand for the workshop.
The library it self is very basic, and the challenges was mostly pragmatic. Local climate and available materials was the most limiting factors. By understanding the situation both physically and socially, we were able to build a useful building in a short time period.
The main function of the building is a library, however it has been used for many other things since the completion. Among other it has been used for a dormitory, meeting space and classroom.
The limited material pallet and time-frame has affected the way we plan for and go forward with a project. The restrictions can become an advantage if you let it. Sometimes we get paralyzed by all the options in a modern building process. And the short time-frame forces the people involved to be bold and in tune with the project at all times. As the architect Nabeel Hamdi says: “Don’t think too much before you start working; and don’t do too much before you stop and start to reflect.”
Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?
This project was one of our first projects, and since then we’ve never had two project processes that has been the same. They all have similarities, and we are able to find parallels between them that is useful for our development as architects.
Just after the Safe Haven Library, we traveled to Bangkok and met a completely different challenge when designing and building the Old Market Library. Suddenly, the importance of involving people became much clearer. At the same time, it was a lot harder to get in touch with people.
How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?
In a globalizing world, it has become easier to get around. Traveling is a part of our lives and the information that comes through the web is very helpful in locating good projects. The building techniques of the building is very, very basic, and there is little new both when it comes to materials and methods.
The technology that has really benefitted this project is social media. When this project was published on ArchDaily.com, it was nominated for the Building of the Year Award. We use the web actively to present our ideas and methods, and our network of students and architects around the world made it possible to out-vote world famous architects. This is a considerable shift in how we present and experience architecture. It’s not only large scale, flashy buildings that becomes part of the global discussion about what is important in architectural development.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Our first projects were built duriong our studies, and we have barely left our university. Many of our friends are still in school, and our network is mostly young architects and students. Naturally, this affects the way we deal with architecture. For the moment we are tutoring several students groups in similar work across the globe, and we learn a lot from these projects too.
One of the most exiting architecture is the kind we haven’t seen yet. It is yet to be discovered. We do not believe the best methods and ideas have been found, and it is most likely that the coming generations of architects will discover wonderful new ways of creating architecture.
Sometimes it seems the human aspect is forgotten in typical building projects. Deadlines, budgets and systems seem to take up most of the architects attention. We try to keep our focus on improving our methods and architectural judgment.