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34 VIEWS


ASK THE ARCHITECT


Tiago Pereira, partner at top five Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen answers ADF’s questions; including on making the move to Copenhagen, and balancing a host of tasks in a busy design office


WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ARCHITECT? That’s a question that I have often asked myself. When I think back I realise I have always been moved by drawings. My father was a mechanical engineer and I remember being seven or eight years old and contemplating these large A0 blueprints and technical drawings of silos and machinery. That appealed to me as something bigger than myself, and it made me realise that I could contribute to the ‘creation of things.’


Tiago Pereira, partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen


WHAT MADE YOU MOVE TO COPENHAGEN AND JOIN SHL? When I finished my studies in Portugal, I moved to Amsterdam. That was the hippest (architectural) place to be in the late 90s. After a short time, I relocated to Barcelona, as the architectural styles as well as the liveability of the city have always appealed greatly to me. There I met my wife, who is Danish, and after six years in Barcelona, we decided to move to Denmark, and try the city of Copenhagen with a fresh take on the world’s architecture setting. At that time Copenhagen was still slightly hidden away from the international spotlight, and only a few studios could cope with the demands of recruiting international staff due to the language barrier.


Schmidt Hammer Lassen was one of the so-called ‘big five’ firms, and had a remarkable track record of designing cultural buildings and large scale mixed-use developments. That to me was quite an interesting mixture of scale and programme. As the firm slowly expanded into international markets, they wanted to diversify their staff with young, ambitious foreigners – an ideal opening for me.


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?


Motivating and mentoring teams of young creatives keeps me sharp and current – their new inputs lead to discussions of architectural qualities that evolve throughout time


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As leader of the creative department in the Copenhagen studio, I work with new competitions and new assignments. The job is dynamic and ever changing, with circumstances that evolve frequently. Motivating and mentoring teams of young creatives keeps me sharp and current – their new inputs lead to discussions of architectural qualities that evolve throughout time.


WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOB?


The diversity of daily tasks. For me these span from management to creative leadership on multiple on-going


assignments. The work can be very demanding, and it is a constant challenge to maintain a balance between achieving the highest quality output while prioritising employee satisfaction.


WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR IN PRACTICE AND WHY?


One of my proudest achievements was being nominated for the ‘Chief Happiness Officer Award’ by our staff. It was a signal to me that my colleagues recognise and appreciate the daily effort of making sure that everyone feels part of something bigger.


It was also an honour to be appointed partner last year. And in terms of projects, it was a major accomplishment to win the competition to design the new headquarters for chemical company Solvay, and to complete the seven-year-long journey of our Malmö Live project in Sweden.


CAN YOU SUMMARISE YOUR APPROACH TO WORKING ON CONCEPTS WITH CLIENTS – ARE YOU MORE PROACTIVE THAN REACTIVE? It is difficult to summarise, as the core point is that we are working with and for people, and people are different. So a balance has to be found, and a common ground for the design to thrive is when we listen to a client’s wishes and ambitions, and we process that through our own understanding of the task ahead. I am a very proactive person, but I don’t feed my ego by pushing solo ideas forward, hoping to indoctrinate an audience. I do like to challenge clients with ideas that might sound progressive or alternative, mostly to ‘take the temperature’ of their real ambition behind generic high expectations for a ‘great project.’


DO YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOY WORKING ON LARGE-SCALE, COMPLEX PROJECTS, AND WHY? Yes and no. Large-scale, complex projects are a challenge in so many ways. The scale certainly appeals to me as it brings so many questions forward – everything from a humanistic perspective, to sheer size, to the financial feasibility of the project, the complexity of the functional program, and the technical challenges. On the other hand, working with large-scale projects, especially in their early stages, keeps the detailing and refinement of the final product as a mirage, in the hope that it will ‘all end well,’ and in


ADF FEBRUARY 2019


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