Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview: Ms. Anna Ranova Kerr, Tengbom Architects

Tengbom is an architectural firm in Sweden which offers services ranging from urban master planning, healthcare and research facilities, offices, and retail, commercial, residential, and industrial buildings to interior design and layout.
Founded in 1906 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, with additional offices in Gothenburg and Helsingborg, Sweden, Tengbom’s business concept is to offer a complete range of highly qualified, creative and cost effective architectural services, up to and including full project management and leadership services by its planning teams.
Tengbom’s architects regard the way that a building affects the environment as essential. This approach has made them experts in economic and social sustainable development.
As noted by Ms. Anna Ranova Kerr, Tengbom Architects, the company strives to find sustainable and energy efficient solutions with a positive impact – not only on society of today, but also on that of tomorrow.
In this context she noted that Sweden is well positioned with regard to sustainable urban planning, design and architecture. Stockholm was the first winner of the new European Green Capital award and will be European Green Capital in 2010. One of the key-drivers behind this is the strong Swedish tradition of co-operation between planning authorities, architects and developers.
“We think environmental features of a sustainable community should include: utilization and optimal use of local resources, using less, reuse or recycling, carbon neutral, renewable energy sources, energy efficient buildings, transport and mobility management, avoiding hazardous materials in construction and biodiversity,” she said.
With a team of – Architects – Landscape Architects – Urban Planners – Interior Designers Consultants – Tengbom is the third largest architectural firm in Sweden and one of the leading architectural offices in Scandinavia. Tengbom employs over 250 architects and engineers at offices in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Kalmar, Malmö, Umeå and Uppsala.
“Our firm is one of the oldest in Europe, and has since its foundation in 1906 held its place in textbooks of architectural history as well as being in the forefront in modern times. We pride ourselves in being experts in our diverse fields. Our everyday work continuously fine tunes our professional skills and knowledgebase providing our customers with the knowledge and satisfaction that Tengbom will service all issues and concerns such as complex laws, regulations, and building codes.”
Tengbom’s competence in sustainable design has been developed over the years in a number of green urban planning and housing projects, ranging from Sweden to China.
Since 1997 Tengbom has been fortunate enough to take part in the planning and design of The Hammarby Sjöstad project in Stockholm. The project is a unique development in Sweden, both in terms of size, sustainable design and integrated planning work. Tengbom has taken part in the masterplan process, design, and implementation of the statutory plans, design guidelines, urban management, sustainability issues, and project co-ordination.
“We also designed the environmental information centre GlashusEtt at Hammarby Sjöstad. Environmental education/energy centres like GlashusEtt, are crucial to the on-going success and efficiency of the embedded technology to the community as a whole.”
The building is set in a park with a self-cleansing storm-water canal, surrounded by residential blocks. The building design is transparent in a double sense – from the energy saving double glass facade as well as its environmentally technological and educational content.
“Having been heavily involved in the development of Hammarby Sjöstad for the past ten years has made it possible for us to also work on projects with a focus on sustainable design in other parts of Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa,” she said.
Tengbom has recently designed an office building which has been awarded a GreenBuilding certificate, the first one in the Czech Republic. In Tanzania Tengbom is completing the BEX award winning ”House of Culture” project, a passively sustainable building and renovation of the National Museum in Dar es Salaam.
“The challenges abroad are quite different, but our experience is that the basic Swedish design approach, our holistic green perspective in combination with a strong local involvement creates a sound mix.”
Since Tengbom entered the Asian market four years ago, the company has participated in several projects in early stages with a focus on sustainable design. The growth and urbanization in Asia creates great challenges with regard to balancing growth as well as limiting negative social and environmental effects, she said.
For instance, since Tengbom entered the Chinese market a couple of years ago the company has been invited to take part in several projects focused on sustainable design that are comparable in size with Hammarby Sjöstad. The differences are that these projects are developed three or four times as fast – and that there are numerous projects of similar size under development in all the major cities in China.
At the moment, Tengbom is working on a number of projects not only in China, but also in countries such as India, England, and Tanzania.
“We apply sustainability skills and knowhow from Sweden in our international projects. At Tengbom we believe strongly that the opportunity to work on big and complex projects in various parts of the world make us better prepared to meet future challenges in fast changing and emerging markets.”
Ms. Ranova Kerr noted that at Tengbom, concept and aesthetics are important. But the passion is equally strong for the environment, quality assurance and customer relationships. This comprehensive view has made it one of the leading and fastest growing architectural firms in Scandinavia.
“Working within the tradition of Scandinavian architecture, we strive to find smart solutions for building cities that improve the well being of present, as well as future, generations. All our projects, irrespective of size, type and country, have one thing in common – apart from surface, we also contribute with substance. And just like when we first began in 1906, we are recognized for our new way of thinking and our ambition to create added value – socially, culturally and economically.”
Many of the buildings that Tengbom has designed over the years have become well known landmarks. In Stockholm, for example – where we started more than a century ago – the townscape is characterized by a number of classic Tengbom buildings, like the Concert Hall, the Högalid church as well as the second Hötorg building and the Bonnier building – two of the most distinguished high rise buildings in the city centre of Stockholm.
“We pride ourselves in being experts in our diverse fields. Our everyday work continuously fine tunes our professional skills and knowledgebase providing our customers with the knowledge and satisfaction that Tengbom will service all issues and concerns such as complex laws, regulations, and building codes,” she said.