Alexander Heien Berg, who recently became a partner at Various Architects has been featured on the cover of Exquisite magazine.
Extracts from the magazine interview:
Congratulations! You were made partner at your firm today. What has the journey been like at Various Architects to get to this stage of your career?
Thank you. It has been an interesting, educational, and fun ride. I have been working at Various Architects since 2013, and have been involved in a wide range of projects. I´ve always been curious and tried to achieve more than my job description. We have always worked as a close team, which gives me ownership of the company – I put a lot of effort on the side to bring more jobs to the company. I follow my granddad´s philosophy in life: have fun in life and in business.
Why is your company named Various?
As the name implies, Various Architects has a collaborative design philosophy that creates bespoke project teams of creatives and experts for each project we undertake. We have a network of architects, artists, landscape architects, interior designers and product designers that we like to involve in our projects where appropriate. Teamwork is an important part of our everyday life at the office.
What exciting project are you working on at the moment?
I brought in a job to transform a historical building in a locomotive industrial zone in Lodalen, Oslo, into functional office spaces. We created new extroverted building structures that compliment the historical facades. This allows for creating exciting interior spaces and enhances the daylight qualities for the building – a perfect mix of old and new. The transformation has been like a dynamo for the area, which constantly creates new design projects for our company.
Environmental solutions and innovative sustainable designs are major components of your firm’s philosophy. How do you put this into practice?
Our challenge is to engage the clients in the importance of sustainable design. Every project is different and hence the environmental solutions are different. For example our Mobile Performance Venue has been hailed for its lightweight design and 100% recyclable structure. We managed to design an inflatable building that compacts to 4% of it´s original volume. Another example is Lodalen administration building, which we focused on transforming existing functions with the contemporary ones, rather than tearing it down and building something new. This would have had a huge environmental impact. A third example is Villa Faun, which we designed with very high energy standards, even though this was not part of the requirement.
You must travel a great deal. Which 3 cities in the world do you love most for their architecture?
I love travelling and discovering the world. Just last week I was in Bangkok and Koh Samui. Amsterdam is one of the cities that I always return to for inspiration. I lived in Italy for three years as a kid, and the beautiful ancient architecture in Rome has always fascinated me. This might be one of the reasons I became an architect. I love Tokyo for its mix of old and new architecture. Crazy, sexy, cool. Last and not least, I’m impressed by how Singapore has been transforming through the years, since I was born here.
What are the architectural design styles of your own home?
Scandinavian countries are leaders in minimalist design. Norway is no exception. Norwegians have a close contact to the amazing surrounding landscape which has a great impact on our designs. As for Various Architects we focus on integrating our projects in the surrounding context and on making a positive contribution to society, regardless of the size and type of project.
What advice can you give a young student who wants to become an architect and partner like you?
Be curious and have fun – being an architect is a study that lasts a lifetime. Don´t worry about how the other students solve their task, and don´t spend unnecessary money on models – you get free cardboard from bike shops.