Young architecture with sustainability in focus

In Copenhagen, there are many options open to architecture students. They can choose to follow as many as 12 different directions, from furniture design and landscape architecture to transformation, where the focus is on construction technology and building. Because the courses are managed by the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, aesthetics are naturally an important element for all fields. However, neither technology nor aesthetics takes top priority at the moment; instead, the main focus is always on the same thing: sustainability.

Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen is Head of the School of Architecture in Copenhagen and he emphasises how sustainability permeates all educational orientations at the school:

– Prior to this year’s degree project, we had a common requirement for the students: in their final projects, everyone had to relate to the UN’s 17 global sustainability goals. We want our students to contribute to the social debate and not just to the aesthetics.

In Denmark, it is precisely the architecture students’ degree projects that receive a lot of attention. Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen says that there was great interest in a major exhibition of this year’s work, which has just ended in Copenhagen. Half a dozen degree projects from this exhibition have also been selected to be exhibited during this year’s Nordic Architecture Fair in Gothenburg. When he talks about the students’ thesis work, the leader in architectural education’s pride is abundantly clear:

– Quality is a watchword for those of us working in education and the work that has been selected is all of a high quality. It is important for young architects to show off what they are going for early in their careers and to meet other highly motivated architects from neighbouring countries.

The Young Architecture exhibition at this year’s Nordic Architecture Fair will exhibit some 30 degree-projects from both Nordic and Baltic architectural schools. Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen emphasises the importance of strengthening cooperation between these countries:

– We have students from all over the world at our school in Copenhagen, but there is a particularly familial community between the Nordic and Baltic schools. We simply have a great understanding and mutual respect for our various activities, and we have also established a Nordic-Baltic academy that meets regularly for discussions, not least about young architecture.

Then, of course, there are also cultural differences in the field of architecture between the different countries:

– We usually say that Danish architects have better opportunities and more leeway than, for example, Swedish architects. But basically, we all face roughly the same challenges. That is why it is important that we meet and hold a professional discussion together.

On the other hand, the outcome of the actual competition between the selected degree work to be exhibited in Gothenburg in October is less important:

– We are proud to showcase a number of high-quality sustainable works. By comparison, the result of the competition plays a secondary role, concludes Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen.