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Ole Scheeren speaks out on architects’ marginalisation

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Architects must remain relentlessly optimistic and avoid self-pity and whining in addressing their marginalisation in the industry, Ole Scheeren has told the AJ

Unveiling his first major project in Europe – a striking high-rise tower retrofit in Frankfurt – the German star architect acknowledged the job of an architect could be ‘mercilessly tough’ but said the answer lay in combining extreme pragmatism with undiminished idealism.

Scheeren worked on Beijing’s CCTV project before setting up Buro Ole Scheeren and winning the 2015 World Building of the Year prize for the Interlace scheme in Singapore.

‘We must be careful not to victimise ourselves too much,’ Scheeren said. ‘That will only exacerbate the issue. If an architect does not carry a profound sense of optimism there is no possibility of success.

THE INTERLACE by Buro Ole Scheeren 1

THE INTERLACE by Buro Ole Scheeren 1

The Interlace, Singapore, by Buro Ole Scheeren

‘But architects can also be too resistant. I’ve always wanted to look at both sides, look at the economic realities. It’s about proving the financial value [of your design]. The Singapore scheme was achieved despite the fact that only towers were thought to be possible there.’

The Frankfurt skyscraper, known as the Riverpark Tower, has planning in principle from the city authorities. It will be a highly transparent residential building of almost 100m following its conversion from a 70s Brutalist office tower.

The scheme features sweeping views of the city skyline and adjacent River Main, and radically blends indoor and outdoor space through the insertion of huge horizontal floors into the free-spanning concrete structure.

‘Re-use is a meaningful topic,’ Scheeren said. ‘So many buildings in Europe have become outdated with regard to current requirements, but it’s also about environmental responsibility. There’s also embodied history as well as embodied energy.’

The project, for German real estate firm GEG, comprises 220 units on 23 floors including small business apartments and four-room suites. Construction is scheduled to begin late next year.

Buro Ole Scheeren has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Berlin and Bangkok.

Plans for a London office announced in 2010 did not come to fruition, but the practice has been reportedly lined up for an £87 million HQ for the British Film Institute on London’s South Bank

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