3XN The Danish Architectural Studio

Museum of Liverpool

My goal has always been to create architecture which creates behavior and ultimately contributes positively to the world – both architecturally and environmentally— Kim Herforth Nielsen

The Architectural Practice

Kim Herforth Nielsen
3XN was founded as Nielsen, Nielsen and Nielsen in Aarhus in 1986 by the architects Kim Herforth Nielsen, Lars Frank Nielsen (partner until 2002) and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen (partner until 1992). The three Nielsen architects, often referred to as the Nielsens – and today simply as 3XN – quickly became known for two things: their preference for ground–breaking architecture, in defiance of the anti–humanistic modernism and projects demanding a high level of detail and employing workmanship of the highest quality.

Its head office is located in Copenhagen, where approximately 80 employees operate in a project-oriented network structure. At every project stage they team up in workshops with partners, experts, users etc., discussing the results of their research and developing the concept and framework for the design work. They usually work with cardboard models a lot, as it helps them to share, discuss and evaluate different spatial solutions.

Nordhavnen residences DK 3

The studio have staff a mix of experienced project architects and talented, young design architects. Each project team is headed by two partners, a contact partner and a backup partner, a head of project, a project manager, who might be a project architect, or a planning manager, as well as a design manager. The managerial functions are the responsibility of the experienced senior architects in the team. The project teams are comprise of staff with a variety of expert competencies to ensure that every assignment is carried out optimally. At the end of each planning stage, the process is evaluated with regard to the dialogue with the client and partners, finances and time-frame.

3XN The Danish Architectural Studio

3XN became a limited liability company in 1995. In 2007 3XN established GXN; a Research & Development department that scans the market and the latest research for pioneering ideas, focusing on green and digital architecture, new materials, technology, and working methods.


The firm's first breakthrough came with the court house in Holstebro (1992), which was followed by a number of first prizes in architectural competitions, such as the Architects' House in Copenhagen (1994) The Glass Museum in Ebeltoft (1995) the Oceanarium in Hirtshals (1996), the Danish Embassy in Berlin (1998) and the concert hall Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam (1997). The two latter structures, which were highly acclaimed, made a name on the international architectural scene for the artistically ambitious Danish architects with their distinctive approach and carefully planned spatial formations.

holstebro retsbygning

The Muziekgebouw, completed 2005, together with Museum of Liverpool (2004) and the Cube in Berlin (first prize 2007), marks the focus on culture buildings and prestigious international competitions, without, however, compromising on the continued development of original solutions in plans, facades and organization of the interiors. This two–fold ambition shows in the Danish upper secondary school Ørestad Gymnasium (2004–2007), which has revolutionized school architecture and attracts interest from all over the world. Together with a number of original corporate headquarters designs such as FIH, Deloitte, Saxo Bank, Horten and KPMG, this became a new platform for the practice. Daring concepts and design also characterize master plans and housing projects like the Lighthouse in Aarhus and the new Denmark's Aquarium, The Blue Planet, in Copenhagen. Some one studio latest projects includes Odenplan, BellaSky, National Concert Hall Dublin, New Delhi Chancellary, Campus Roskidle, and so on.

Ar. Kim Herforth Nielsen, his Architectural Design Philosophy and Achievements

Architect Kim Herforth Nielsen, born 1954, is Founder, Principal, Partner, Artistic Director and most importantly the nerve of 3XN. Graduated from the Aarhus School of Architecture in 1981, this Danish architect is one of the three Nielsen-founders. Ever since he has been the driving force behind 3XN, and been involved in all the practice's major projects, including The Blue Planet, Kubus in Berlin, Museum of Liverpool, Ørestad College, Muziekgebouw Concert Hall in Amsterdam, the Danish Embassy in Berlin and the Architects' House in Copenhagen etc.

Saxo Bank

His philosophy for creating architecture is based on the combination of design, function and context. He has set his focus on creating life both in and around buildings and has thus become one of Denmark's most notable international profiles in the field of architecture. According to him, Architecture can get people talking together. Architecture can calm children in the classroom. It can make passive people more active. It can shape corporate culture. Architecture can encourage people to find new paths, discover new aspects of their city — and of themselves.

He explained, as architecture is creative futurology, that is why we always try to understand the context in which we build – the physical surroundings as well as the social, cultural and historical context in general. It is a process that is ultimately about the people who will live in the buildings for many years to come. This dialogue often continues long after construction is complete.

Elaborating he said, Architecture also tells story. We listen to the story the site is telling us, and that story becomes part of the concept we develop. We investigate the site and we ask people questions in order to find the story the building should tell. This is the process we have summoned with the words 'investigate, ask, tell, draw, build'.


Architecture shapes the world. We constantly seek to develop designs that encompass in a single expression the spatial needs, the spirit of the location, the constructive solution and the main theme of the project. This is a process equally divided between craftsmanship and deliberations. And it is driven by a love of good design.

Last but not the least he reiterated, architecture shapes behavior too. That is why we try to create places where people can interact and communicate and where synergy can grow. We believe that buildings, like people, are more than just the sum of their many parts. We believe that it is possible to achieve a synthesis of design, function and context. That is why a holistic approach is our guiding principle, and why we are forever exploring the possibilities of building better, cleverer, and more beautifully.

Kim Herforth Nielsen, a man of great personality is often called upon as a jury member in international architectural competitions and as lecturer at art academies and universities around the world. He was awarded with the Eckersberg Medal in 1999, and in 2000 he was made Knight of The Order of Dannebrog. He has also received Denmark's highest architectural honor, the C.F. Hansen Medaille for his ability to give rise to a new type of architecture. Through the years Kim Herforth Nielsen has worked with a clear architectural vision and prioritized the creation of architecture that makes a difference.

3XN in India

Danish Architectural studio 3XN has been interested in the Indian market for years. From time to time its partners visit India and spend time researching historical architectural techniques (for instance natural cooling, sustainability, early forms of urban planning). Last year, the firm in collaboration with Mumbai based Developer called Rohan Developer formally entered into this market to design a number of highrise developments in central Mumbai. It is one of Denmark's first architecture studios to work in India. The agreement between 3XN and Rohan Developers is for design services on a number of exclusive residential skyscrapers, but also with an important social component. The Indian regulations require the current inhabitants of the site to be rehoused on the same site in upgraded conditions.

'The social aspect is vital – and also with regards to our engagement in India. There is enormous growth in India, but they have a healthy social perspective. For example, there is no intention of moving the slum dwellers out of the city. In fact, it is the opposite. They understand how important it is to have people of all classes living near their workplaces,' explains Kim Herforth Nielsen.

3XN The Danish Architectural Studio
Kim Herforth Nielsen shaking hands with Akshay Thakker, Creative Director of Rohan developers, after signing the contract in the presence of the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Lene Espersen at the Danish Embassy in New Delhi.

Rohan Developers engagement is in good harmony with 3XN's holistic way of thinking, where social and environmental sustainability are two sides of the same story,' says Kim Herforth Nielsen. The projects in India will be developed by 3XN in Copenhagen, and further worked on in co-operation with a local architect who will advise on local regulations and understandings. The agreement also includes knowledge sharing on new materials and technologies that can be implemented in the project to lower energy use, improve air quality and lower maintenance costs.

Rohan Developers is one of the largest developers in Mumbai. The company has completed nearly 60 projects and has nearly as many in sight for the future. When they took contact with 3XN it was with the view.

Currently 3XN in India is engaged in the Concept and Schematic Design phases of two separate towers in South Mumbai in collaboration with Mumbai based architect, Atul Shah at Access Architects, and will finalized the Detailed Design by the end of this year.

The firm is also looking at other projects such as cultural buildings which they are eager to get started on with Lord Cultural Resources who have established a presence in Mumbai. 3XN is absolutely delighted to be involved in the Indian market, and looks forward to a long collaboration! of doing something out of the ordinary. Not least, they also had an eye on opportunities that come with the studio's research and development department, GXN. Their goal was to implement innovative, green solutions in the tightly built up city of Mumbai.

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