Danish architectural practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL) has announced the closure of its London office
The SHL office in Weston Street, Southwark, south London, opened in 2006 and at its peak had a staff of around thirty with an order book boasting prestigious schemes including the new library at the University of Aberdeen and the £67.7million City of Westminster College.
But last year, just as the UK began easing out of the long recession, SHL’s Danish masters told its London staff that they would be closing the office in February 2014.
The AJ understands that a skeleton staff still remain in the studio - but by early February the Danish big hitter will close its UK outpost for good.
As well as its HQ in Copenhagen the firm has another in Aarhus, Denmark and also one in Shanghai. An ex-SHL employee told AJ that the firm had decided to concentrate all its efforts in its Shanghai practice: ‘They decided to put all their eggs in their China basket,’ said the source.
‘SHL suffered in the UK recession but a lot of people don’t realise that Denmark also struggled. Then there was a boom in the China market and the balance shifted,’ the source said.
He added: ‘In Denmark it seems that projects are all won in competition; here it is more about the clients you know and their relationship with them.
‘It’s a real shame, it was a fantastic place to work,’ added the source.
Dave Madden, director of Bristol-based architectural recruitment company Mustard, said he was surprised by the news: ‘We are not in a recession anymore and there is very little negative news; the commercially minded firms are doing very well.
‘Builders are building and architects are designing once more,’ said Madden.
Comment from Bente Damgaard, chief executive of Schmidt Hammer Lassen: ‘We are adjusting [our] organisation and is downscaling [our] London office. The studio will, however, maintain its UK activities.
‘Our organisation has to follow the flow of incoming assignments and therefore we have had to adjust the London office. I would, however, like to stress that we still have a company in London and we will continue our activities in the UK market.’
‘We consider our cooperation with clients and collaborators in the UK market to be very important and fruitful. With our two RIBA-award-winning projects: City of Westminster College in London and Sir Duncan Rice Library in Aberdeen, Scotland, and several other successful projects, we have a good track record and we would certainly like to continue this line of strong projects in the future.’