Architects 3XN on Turning an Old High-Rise Into a New | Louisiana Channel



“I think it’s going to be a model of how to transform existing high-rises into new high-rises in the future.”

Meet architect Kim Herforth Nielsen, Founder and Creative Director of the Danish studio 3XN, who here tells the story behind the transformation of Quay Quarter Tower in Sydney, Australia – an existing high-rise in the city centre that was turned into a new and doubled in size.

In November 2022, the project won the prestigious International High-Rise Award (IHA), considered the world’s most important architectural award for high-rise buildings, presented by the City of Frankfurt am Main together with Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and DekaBank.

“I think the best architecture comes out of challenges. You don’t get a very interesting answer if there is no problem to solve. And this building here had so many issues, had so many challenges to solve.”

“It is not only the first high-rise we have done, but it is also the biggest transformation of a high-rise into a new high-rise that has been done in the world until now. We live in a world where sustainability is a big word, and transformation, of course, is very much part of that.”

Kim Herforth Nielsen (b. 1954) is the Founder and Creative Director at 3XN Architects. The studio was founded in Aarhus, Denmark, in 1986 by architects Kim Herforth Nielsen, Lars Frank Nielsen and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen. The practice has more than 35 years of experience creating cultural, office and residential environments which positively affect behaviour, productivity and social interaction. The studio is driven by the belief that “architecture shapes behaviour” – that buildings should add new and positive qualities to their environments and improve the quality of people’s lives.

3XN had its international breakthrough in the late 1990s with the Danish Embassy in Berlin and the Muziekgebouw Concert Hall in Amsterdam.

Its Scandinavian approach to designing human-centric and resilient environments has resulted in the realization of some of the world’s most ambitious sustainable buildings, including the award-winning Olympic House – IOC Headquarters in Lausanne (2019) received the highest LEED Platinum score ever given. Other key completed works include the UN City in Copenhagen (2013), Royal Arena in Copenhagen (2017); the Cube in Berlin (2020), the North Wing (2020) of Rigshospitalet, Denmark’s leading hospital; and the Klimatorium in Lemvig (2020), which was part of the New European Bauhaus celebrations in 2022. Among other projects, the studio is currently engaged in a transformation master plan for BMW’s main campus in Munich, the Children’s Hospital at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, and the Sydney Fish Market, which will be completed in 2025. 3XN has won several prestigious awards, including LEAF Award (2006), RIBA European Award (2005 and 2011) and RIBA International Award (2009).

Quay Quarter Tower was designed by 3XN and developed in partnership with BVN. The entire team on Quay Quarter Tower includes AMP Capital, Arup, Aspect Studios, BG+E, BVN, Multiplex, Tom Dixon/Design Research Studio, and Sharvain Projects. Studio Olafur Eliasson contributed the public artwork at the building’s base.

Kim Herforth Nielsen was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at 3XN in Copenhagen Denmark in October 2022.

Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan

Edited by: Signe Boe Pedersen

Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen.

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