The company was founded in Århus in 1986 as Nielsen, Nielsen & Nielsen (later 3 X Nielsen) by Kim Herforth Nielsen, Lars Frank Nielsen og Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen. The latter left the company, which is today led by a partner group of three with Kim Herforth Nielsen as the Principal Architect. The practice had its international breakthrough in the late 90s with the Danish Embassy in Berlin (completed in 1999) and the Muziekgebouw Concert Hall inAmsterdam (competition win in 1997). In 2005 3XN won the competition for the new Museum of Liverpool which will open in 2011.
Among 3XNs high profiled Danish projects are Ørestad Gymnasium (High school) (2007), the renovation of Tivoli’s Concert Hall (2005), Alsion, university, koncert hall and research centre in Sønderborg (2007), the headquarters of Saxo Bank in Copenhagen (2008), the headquarters of the law firm Horten (2009), Middelfart Savings Bank (2010) and KPMG Headquarters (2011). Under construction are Bella Sky – the biggest hotel in Scandinavia, Lighthouse, a highrise in Århus, a new town hall in the Dutch city Nieuwegein and last but not least Denmark’s new Aquarium, The Blue Planet in Copenhagen. Recently 3XN has won the competition to design the new headquarters for Swedbank in Stockholm and another Swedish residential project in Vällingby. 3XN is also present in Norway with projects such as the Theatre and Jazz House in Molde and a Culture House in Mandal.
In 2007 3XN established the research and development department GXN working on implementing new (green) materials and technologies in the studio’s projects. The R&D department also develops new projects and designs of lamps for instance. GXN is also behind the green Louisiana Pavilion displayed at the Danish art museum Louisiana during COP15. The pavilion is built with a biocomposite especially developed for the purpose. GXN works with Cradle to Cradle Denmark at developing the first Danish building manual based on the Cradle to Cradle principles.
In 2010 3XN created the exhibititon Mind Your Behaviour, which was shown at Danish Architecture Centre and at Galleri Aedes in Berlin.
The 3XN PhilosophyThe architecture of 3XN is created in the nexus between science and art; iconic design and context. That combination results in an expression of humanity. Dialogue is extremely important and the stories told by the people and the place are always carefully listened to. Working with the motto; “Investigate, Ask, Tell, Draw, Build” 3XN’s buildings express spatial requirements quite simply, reflecting the spirit of the place, the constructive solution and the project’s overall idea in one comprehensive solution.
Behavior is another keyword in the 3XN philosophy. In 2007, 3XNs Ørestad College set new standards for educational buildings. The open design changed the traditional ideas of the layout and look of a school building. Based on the principles of knowledge sharing and interdisciplinarity of the Danish Gymnasium Reform of 2005 the traditional class rooms have been removed in favor of open flexible rooms thus allowing interaction and better learning and working environments for the students. This mindset; that architecture shapes behavior has become a guiding principle in all 3XN’s architectural solutions. Out of the synthesis of design, function and context new buildings take shape that are larger than the sum of their parts and that create an added value for the end users.
“For me, architecture is more about creating spaces and environments that accommodate the people working and living in them. All through the process it is important for us as well as the client to have an environment that is inspiring and designed with the human being in full focus. I believe that architecture creates behavior” Kim Herforth Nielsen, Founder and Principal, 3XN
Timelapse of Ørestad Gymnasium, by 3xn
Orestad College (high school) opened in 2007 just south of central Copenhagen in the development area of Orestad. The superstructure of the building is formed by four boomerang-shaped platforms that rotate over four floors and remain open to one another allowing for a seamless interconnection of space throughout the school. This open, high central hall, known as the X-zone, is linked by a stairway that helps promote interdisciplinary communication and cooperation among the various teaching and study spaces.
Transparent glass shades automatically rotate on the exterior of the building allowing light in and providing an array of colors to the interior environments. By manipulating the sunlight the entire student body becomes aware of the passing of time and the changing of the seasons as the school year progresses.
Sustainability for education can certainly begin with the design of the school itself, and 3XN has successfully integrated the traditional Scandinavian aspects of functionality with clarity and beauty in form.
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