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Urban spaces of the future

Portrait

At the center of this change is JUUL | FROST ARCHITECTS, an office of architects specializing in urban planning. Established in Denmark in 1983, the office has been responsible for more than 1,460 homes and commercial facilities over the course of the last five years, with construction costs exceeding 300 million EUR.

JUUL | FROST ARCHITECTS is the brainchild of partners Helle Juul and Flemming Frost. The two architects first came together in order to take part in an international exhibition in Berlin. The focus of the exhibition was on urban vision strategies on a large scale. This has remained the focus of their work, and the company now enjoys an international reputation for innovation and quality based on open lines of communication.

“We approach all our assignments using a dialogue-based method, regardless of the scale of the project,” says cofounder and Managing Partner Helle Juul, who is responsible for overseeing company operations and strategy.

Large scale projects are the company’s specialty. Notable examples from its reference portfolio include a housing project for 270 homes located south of Copenhagen.

Between 2004 and 2009, the architectural office was commissioned to work on concepts for secure universities of the future as part of various campus projects.

“The aim was to develop an urban campus concept that addressed spatial, social and learning needs, and adopted a holistic approach to dealing with multifunctional learning both inside and outside the lecture theater,” explains Ms. Juul. “During this time we wrote two books based on the project: Public Space 1 in 2008 and Public Space 2 in 2009.”

JUUL | FROST ARCHITECTS is heavily involved in urban planning strategy for the future and is frequently invited to participate in projects looking into the way urban spaces can be made to work for future generations.

“In the past, urban planning was a bit hit or miss, and a lot of buildings have been erected largely in isolation, without considering how they fit into the existing structure,” says Ms. Juul. “Our project was intended to stimulate an important discussion about urban spaces and bring new tools to the table. It was meant to be a catalyst in the development of urban spaces that take social and cultural factors as well as special needs into account while also meeting the changing requirements of an ageing population. We need to have an interconnected approach if we are going to create urban spaces that promote interaction rather than ghettoization.”

In order to achieve its goals, the company is organized into three units. City + Space + Landscape looks at the interchange between movement and spatial scenarios, and between different levels of scale.

The Housing + Buildings unit focuses on optimizing industrialized building practices to develop new types of architecture that meet the needs of users.

Finally, the Research + Communication unit tackles the central questions within urbanity and architecture, and provides theoretical support for the other two units.

“A huge amount of thought and experience goes into the planning and design of truly functional spaces that also comply with aesthetic standards,” insists Ms. Juul. “Thanks to our experience both at home and abroad, we are recognized for our futuristic yet practical designs.”

Clients from the public sector such as universities, business schools and colleges make up 60% of the company’s business, with housing projects and residential buildings accounting for the remainder. International activities, mainly in Sweden and Norway, generate 70% of turnover.

“We have been involved in some highly successful projects abroad, including the Forus Business Park in Norway, which powers an astonishing one fifth of Norwegian value creation. There, we were commissioned to transform the space and the landscape to create an effective working environment similar to our campus projects but within the context of the park’s main industry: the oil and gas sector. This is an ongoing project, and we are considering establishing a local office at Forus to support its continuation as well as an office in Stockholm, Sweden, to support our activities there.”

The company was honoured with the City of Malmö’s Award for Planning Architecture 2012 in recognition of its outstanding contribution. For JUUL | FROST ARCHITECTS, urban planning is as much about people and the landscape as it is about architecture, which is why its work resonates so strongly in the spaces it transforms.

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