Interview: Mikkelsen Arkitekter

Mikkelsen Arkitekter is among the country’s best growing architectural companies according to the latest industry analysis. We have therefore had a chat with Managing Director and owner Stig Mikkelsen to gain further insight into their impressive results and what exciting projects they have in the pipeline.

Some of the projects Mikkelsen Arkitekter have had on their drawing boards in recent years are: Laboratory and Logistics building at Bispebjerg Hospital, System Biology at DTU, ATP Udbetaling Danmark Vordingborg, the Thorvald Ellegaard Arena bike track in Odense. These have been good years for the company, which was founded by Stig Mikkelsen in 2012. According to the latest industry analysis of the architectural business, Mikkelsen Arkitekter were the industry’s third best at growth with a revenue growth of 98 per cent and a 95 per cent growth in gross profit. What is the formula behind these impressive results?

 

“The result is a manifestation of the changes we experience on a daily basis. Some years are good and some are not. We are humble, though of course we are delighted when things succeed. In 2014/2015 we have submitted tenders for many projects and had the good fortune to win the projects. We are off to a good start in the area of building research and university facilities, and then we are also used to working in complex contexts. We have been lucky that there has been a demand. And we have been fortunate that the experience we have build up in the private sector has been passed on to a demand in the public segment”.

 

Thus says the company’s Managing Director, who would rather describe himself as a team player of a group of approximately thirty architects and construction managers. There is a group consisting of Stig Mikkelsen, Niels Thorup, Marie Christoffersen and Jeanne Tofteng, who structure and manage the economy, but they are also included in projects and the development of the practice.

 

Several big projects are currently under construction. Among these are the Laboratory and Logistics building at Bispebjerg Hospital, which will be a building of 9,500 m(102,260 sq. ft.), the Systems Biology building 225 at DTU, and at Panum they are performing new laboratory buildings in cooperation with Aarhus Arkitekterne and Moe.

 

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Warm metal surfaces are being used in the construction of  the Laboratory and Logistics building at Bispebjerg Hospital, and the view from the inside of the building then creates a dialogue with the existing buildings and green grounds. 

 

Mikkelsen Arkitekter has additionally turned their focus to transformation and cultural heritage. It makes sense to maintain, adapt to or add to the existing building stock – creating new improved functional and architectural contexts based on the quality of the original building. This is a work process where value creation is based on the original qualities, but the final product is based on the architectural dialogue between new inputs and an understanding of the starting point. The process has resulted in an exciting superstructure added on to ‘Damesalen’ – the Ladies Hall – at Copenhagen University.

 

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‘Damesalen’ – the Ladies Hall – Copenhagen University. The extension is a glass box on top of the existing building, which creates both a functional context and architectural juxtaposition. “High Performange” glass facades are develop in co-operation with the glass industry. 

 

The role of finances in an industry characterised by competition

Although Stig Mikkelsen stresses that they have had the necessary luck, the impressive results are also an indication of something more. Being creative and running a business should not be mutually exclusive. As a result, they try to make room for the creative and educational processes by creating an overview of the economy and their own consumption. You can easily break your neck by plunging into something new and innovative, the director tells

 

For this reason, about a year ago, Mikkelsen Arkitekter decided to acquire AutoPilot.

 

‘It has helped having the AutoPilot system. It is entirely fundamental to keeping track of the finances in an industry characterised by competition. We have a better chance of adjusting when we know our consumption almost day by day. Previously, it was often too late companies discovered the need to change and adjust their resources. So it gives a higher degree of security’.

 

Stig emphasises the advantages of being able to focus more on their professional work. In the case of Mikkelsen Arkitekter, it means emphasis on an innovative approach that brings into focus social spaces that bind buildings’ more hard-core functions together, such as “space for the informal meeting”. Mikkelsen Arkitekter, who are behind Rambøll Headquarters in Ørestaden, anticipates an increased focus on industrial and commercial buildings’ sustainability and a design, which provides opportunities for greater co-operation on a daily basis.

 

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In co-operation with Populous, Mikkelsen Arkitekter have designed and planned the new bike track in Odense. It has been awarded a prize in Denmark and it is also to be found at the international architectural biennial that takes place in Venice later this year.

 

Nordic collaboration

Financial accountability and a new innovative approach has characterised many of the company’s latest projects. However, they do not throw themselves into new assignments without sparing a thought for society and the environment. Sustainability is a key word in the company’s DNA and recently it provided an opportunity to take part in a Nordic collaboration.

 

Three practices and an architecture school from Sweden, Norway and Denmark respectively, are participating in collaboration with Harvard University about green construction in Scandinavia. It is an excellent opportunity for exchanging experiences with Nordic colleagues, just as it is refreshing for the company to hear a few words on how green initiatives done in this country is seen from the outside. Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities has as well invited them to conferences and discussions, where sustainability has been addressed in a Scandinavian international context. This helps the thirty-person company secure an ongoing development.

 

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(Photos © Mikkelsen Arkitekter)

 

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