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Q&A with architect Thomas Sandell

Sandell about the greatest challenges in architecture when it comes to sustainability.

Thomas Sandell is one of Sweden’s most noted architects and designers. He has won many prizes and awards for his work both nationally and internationally and has also been chairman of Architects Sweden. His project portfolio includes furnishings for the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, furniture for IKEA, hotels in Kiruna and Örnsköldsvik, offices for Nasdaq OMX, SCA and Ericsson, countless shop and restaurant interiors and many luxurious villas and lavish private homes.

Thomas joined Aritco’s panel discussion on sustainability during Stockholm Design Week – here’s a taster of his views on one of the most pressing issues of our time. You can watch the full talk here.

Q: What is the greatest challenge in architecture when it comes to sustainability?

A: New buildings should last at least 100 years, so I have a responsibility to design and build them so they are fit for purpose well beyond my own lifetime.

Q: What are the current key trends in architecture?

A: The concept of the 15-minute city mentioned in the report is correct. We conducted research across Scandinavia and Benelux and found that younger people aged 18 to 35 don’t want to live in big cities with more than a million inhabitants. They want bigger homes with at least two bedrooms, space to allow them to work from home and easy access to schools, shops and culture. When it comes to offices, the average space per person has halved compared to 20 years ago. People need less space thanks to hybrid working and want small rooms for phone calls.

Q: How do you design buildings for the circular economy?

A: The most sustainable buildings have been designed with big windows and high ceilings and are well built so they can have many different incarnations. For example, factories built in Stockholm in 1895 have been artists’ studios, advertising agencies, offices for banks and law firms and are now very expensive apartments. They will never be demolished unlike many of the office blocks built in the 1980s which were purpose-built and are now being torn down

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