Make Sense: Architecture by White
Laurence King, May 2019
Hardcover | 7-3/4 x 9-3/4 inches | 272 pages | 3670 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1786274144 | $29.99
White Arkitekter, Scandinavia’s leading interdisciplinary architecture practice, create environments that inspire sustainable ways of living. An employee-owned company founded by Sidney White in 1951, White is a collective of people interested in people. They are architects, anthropologists, planners, engineers, artists, sustainability experts, researchers and more.
In their new book, White showcase over 80 international projects. By integrating research and practice, their work pushes levels of sustainability even higher – it ‘makes sense’ in every way. Their projects range from residential apartments to trekking cabins, from schools to offices, from pop-up parks to nature reserves, and from hospitals to an entire city relocation. To build takes many hands and many minds – it is a marriage of sensibility and sensitivity. The projects in Make Sense aim for a better future – for people and for the planet.
When I think of Scandinavia’s White Arkitekter the project that comes to mind is Kastrup Sea Bath near Copenhagen. Curving in plan and angled upwards in elevation, the wood structure reached by a pier is immediately striking; no wonder it has stuck with me as the symbol for the firm. But White is much more than this project or other public baths, of which they have done quite a few. They are one of the biggest architecture firms around, with 950 employees working in 16 offices (well, 16 per this book, 13 per their website), and they are nearly 70 years old, having been formed by Sidney White and Per-Axel Ekholm in 1951. Their size and longevity would lead one to imagine a portfolio of ever-larger projects needed to maintain their staff and overhead, but the projects in Make Sense reveal amicable coexistence of big and small. Looking at just one of the six typological chapters (Design for Care and Healing) makes this explicit: New Karolinska Solna, one of Sweden’s largest hospital projects (330,000 sm), comes a few pages after the 1,800-sm House of Heroes and right before Hygienic Handle, a project from the White Research Lab that allows doctors to open a door with their forearm rather than their hand.
Developed from a 2017 exhibition of the same name at Architekturgalerie München, Make Sense presents about 80 architecture and research projects. The title is described in the book as “both an imperative an an opportunity” and “about understanding the world and sharing that through [their] practice.” That sharing is covered in a panel discussion at the beginning of the book and the projects in six chapters: in addition to Design for Care and Healing, the other five chapters that follow architectural typologies are Live and Let Live; Transform Public Space; Meet, Learn and Create; Let Nature Lead, and Make Workspaces that Work. With so many projects on relatively small pages (for a monograph at least), a lot of the projects receive only a couple pages. But all projects are given at least a few images, so there is not a feeling of being short-changed on project information or learning about how White understands the world.
White Arkitekter is an interdisciplinary practice for architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and interior design whose work is committed to sustainability in all its forms. Scandinavia’s leading architectural practice and the third largest in Europe, White have worked across Europe, America, and Africa. As an employee-owned company, they live by their values of sustainability and innovation.