"It is a particular challenge designing housing in London. Here it is possible to sell almost anything, so it requires good arguments to convince the developer to spend a little extra on quality - why should he?"
"I see it as a central challenge in my job to insist on quality and to create maximum housing value - that is part of the humanistic values which C.F. Møller Architects was founded on," says architect Rolf Nielsen, who works at the company's London office.
Housing for the London Olympics 2012
Rolf Nielsen has, whilst working for C.F. Møller, been responsible for several housing projects in London - at present the largest and most prominent of them all: The Olympic Athletes Village, where thousands of athletes and officials will be staying for the London Olympics in 2012.
C.F. Møller has designed 185 of the area's 2800 new sustainable housing units. The housing project aims to revitalise one of London's most run down urban areas, and after the Olympic Games, the Athletes Village will become part of the London district of Stratford City and home to approx. 10,000 people.
C.F. Møller Architects was the only Danish architectural firm selected for the project, alongside architects from around the world - C.F. Møller was chosen for the project by Lend Lease, which Rolf Nielsen previously worked with on another housing project in London: 150 sustainable living units on Greenwich Peninsula, a former industrial area south of The Millennium Dome, now called the O2 Arena.
Designing apartments from the inside out
"I know they like how we design apartments from the inside out - always focusing on the end user," says Rolf Nielsen.
"One way of doing this can be by designing the apartments so you get a view from the main entrance right through the apartment and outside. It can be by incorporating wide window ledges so that they can be used as seating, this way increasing space and experiences within the apartment. It can be by using balconies, that instead of being secured on the outside of the building, are recessed into the building creating an outdoor space which provides privacy whilst still being part of urban life. It can be small measures that increase the housing value considerably."
"The same obviously applies for the buildings exterior. By not choosing a facade with flashy-effects such as vibrant colours that will fade far too quickly - there has been built a lot of that kind of stuff in London over the past 20 years, I tell you - we have in the Olympic village focused on using a limited palette of good quality, durable materials such as brick, which requires minimal maintenance and also age beautifully."
Conscious choice of workplace
Rolf Nielsen has an international CV: He was brought up and educated in Denmark, but has always had a great desire to travel and work abroad. He has worked as an architect in Dubai, Reykjavik, for a little while in Aarhus and since Hobro, before he came to London where he was first employed by an English studio and since by C.F. Møller Architects. Rolf is married to a Scot and father to little Magnus.
"When I applied for a position within C.F. Møller, I was looking for a company very clear in their approach to architecture - a company with a solid foundation. So it was a very conscious choice on my part. The company's design values of simplicity, clarity and unpretentiousness appeals to me - and the humanistic values.
It has been great to experience how all the employees at C.F. Møller Architects have a common understanding of what it is, that we are trying to achieve - what good architecture is. There is a great recognition of what our common values are - perhaps even more so here in the London branch, because we constantly have to show our surroundings what our design values are."