EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Why are you an architect?
Christian Henriksen: Well, I should probably be a musician, but the principles behind architecture and design intrigued me. Cars, boats, houses: they can all be dense objects or an adventure, a composition of lines, like frozen music. If you build a car focused solely on function, it won’t sell. There is emotion in choosing one’s car. Great architecture is a synthesis of clear thinking and feeling.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What is important in being a part of the Scandinavian tradition?
Christian Henriksen: Scandinavian design is well-known, and interest is currently booming. The Scandinavian tradition is in the outlook on life and the way we are able to plan and organize things, how we handle hierarchies. All people have some responsibility and freedom to develop their own interests. Clients feel they can trust us.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: And Nordic as a company?
Christian Henriksen: On top of that, as an office we are particularly well organized. We have a method for how to develop a project, how to organize it. One of the main pillars is not to jump to conclusions, but do the right analysis first and see where it leads you. It is a system and a strategy that ensures and enhances the quality of all things, both architecturally and technically.
Oslo International Airport had a budget of 14 billion NOK all inclusive – designing it came on budget and on time. That is the result of working like we do, working with the client like a team. If you have personal responsibility for your client and your work, if you need to face them, you want to be sure you do your job to the best of your ability. You seek each other out to solve problems, instead of blaming each other.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Is sustainability a key issue?
Christian Henriksen: We have a strong focus on sustainability. For instance, almost 70% of passengers use public transport to get to Oslo international airport – as we prefer them to. And what everyone is talking about: we designed a system collecting snow from the runways in a woodchip-covered deposit. Through an ingenious connection with the airport building, we use the snow to cool it in summer. We can’t do anything about the aircraft, but we can get the carbon footprint and energy consumption down for the airport building itself. In Oslo we brought it down by over 50%.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: How did you become specialized in airport design?
Christian Henriksen: Our expertise in airport design comes from designing Oslo Airport. Our international market grew from this expertise in mid-size airports, first in India. We later won another international competition for the expansion of Oslo airport, which was just finished this spring. And by now we are designing larger sites. Currently we are overseeing the construction of Istanbul airport: where we did the initial design together with Haptic and Grimshaw Architects. This airport has the capacity of more than 100 million passengers a year, more than double the capacity of Oslo Airport. The terminal exceeds 1.3 million square meters under one roof.
In the meantime our activities in healthcare also developed out of the Scandinavian model and a focus on the patient and quality of life. We cooperate with our clients, the users, and the project management. We look into how healthcare is organized, and we have a model for how to do complex projects. So now we design hospitals as well. First a regional one in Norway, then two in Denmark, now the Cancer Hub in London together with Haptic Architects UK.
This is how we developed the two pillars for Nordic: internationally we are well-known for airport design and healthcare. Aside from that we do object design, urban planning, smart cities – from small to large.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What do you see in the future?
Christian Henriksen: We will grow in the aviation sector and are interested in expanding our office. Size is a tool for doing the kind of projects we want to do internationally. We want to design outstanding architecture, based on the ethics and morals of our company strategy. Essentially, we want to contribute to making society better.