Interview with Daniel V Hayden

Interview with Daniel V. Hayden, Partner and Architect at DISSING+WEITLING architecture - in NEWS IN NORDIC ARCHITECTURE - MATERIALS + TEXTURE, released by ARCHIPRESS M, October 26, 2018

What do you find most important when choosing materials for a building?

- We always take a number of parameters into account. The choice of materials is important for the building’s expression, functionality, sustainability, durability and lifetime. It is important that we assess all of these aspects based on their mutual correlation – holistically – while at the same time optimising them individually in relation to the overall concept, aesthetics, operation and economics of the building.

The materials send signals about functionality and status to the out-side world and the users. The exterior materials are an important factor when it comes to making the building work with – or contrast with – the surroundings. The materials also form the building’s climate shield and must shield it from wind and weather. When it comes to the interior, the materials have a great influence on creating a healthy indoor climate and a rich environment for the building’s users. The choice of materials is therefore based on thorough considerations.

How do you assess texture and surface when you think about out-door or indoor materials on a building?

- Texture and surface are always compared to an overall assessment of the material’s other properties. All of the building’s materials have to work together from the innermost to the outermost. We spend a lot of time working to find which materials are best suited to live up to the aesthetic and functional requirements for the building.

For example, in connection with our hotel and conference centre for ECCO in Tønder, we have played around with surface treatments of cedar wood and the different textures you can create in the surface of the wood. The interplay between the brushed and untreated and the oiled and burnished. The untreated cedar will become silver-grey over time and almost merges into the landscape, while the oiled wood frames the hotel’s terraces and outdoor spaces in order to give them a warmer expression and a more touch-friendly surface. The wood is exactly the same tree, but the different surface treatments creates two very different visual and tactile experiences.

How do you begin the design process for a building’s facade?

- We begin with the people who will be using the building and therefore always start by looking from the inside and out. In our new headquarters for Orbicon, there was for example major focus on the work environment and indoor climate. We worked on how the orientation of the building in relation to daylight, combined with natural ventilation and thermal conditions in the facade, could help to create the best possible indoor climate.

In addition, there is of course a creative process in which we balance all of the developer’s and users’ demands and wishes with the context the building is situated in. Whether this is the building’s orientation towards the outside world or a wish to see it exude something specific. One of our most important focus areas is the correlation between sustainability, material selection and thoughtful detailing, so the building maintains its expression and develops a beautiful patina over the years.

Is there an area which interests you most – and in terms of creating architecture, which is it?

- What inspires us in the design process is the interplay between the building’s functions and users, the location, economy and, not least, the good idea that constantly mutates and evolves. This is where we think creating architecture is most interesting. We really like to create an atmosphere around the process itself that is inclusive for everyone and aimed at developing innovative and inspiring solutions.

Over the years we have developed an approach that ensures that the economic, technical and aesthetic wishes and requirements are integrated in the process from the very beginning. So that we can manage all the important elements and ensure that the fundamental “good idea” can be realised. When these elements are harmonised, the result is a functional and beautiful building for many years to come.

Do you think Danish architecture differs from architecture in the other Nordic countries?

- Although there is a range of shared Nordic attitudes towards functionality, spatiality and daylight, modern Danish architecture is nevertheless always a little set apart from the modern architectural tradition in the other Nordic countries. There is a special focus on functionality and common sense combined with a deep understanding of the materials, proportions and details. Over time, this has created an amazingly high level of quality which has really been noticed and become familiar around the world.

The philosophy behind modern Danish architecture is in line with the vision for the creation of the post-war Danish welfare state. We have a long tradition of creating public buildings and urban areas that are both inclusive for people and maintain a high level of architectural quality. As with the rest of the Nordic region, Danish architecture is characterised by placing focus on people and having an ambition to create a good framework for the good life.

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