schmidt hammer lassen architects

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Founded in Aarhus, Denmark, in 1986 by architects Morten Schmidt, Bjarne Hammer and John F. Lassen, schmidt hammer lassen (SHL) architects has grown substantially with offices in Aarhus, Copenhagen, London, and Shanghai and employs over 140 staff. The practice is deeply rooted in the Scandinavian architectural traditions based on democracy, welfare, aesthetics, light, sustainability and social responsibility.

The company which has a track record for being a designer of high-profile cultural buildings, art galleries, educational complexes and libraries, is led by CEO Bente Damgaard with reference to a professional board of directors. The creative management is led by the Creative Director Bjarne Hammer together with the other four partners John F. Lassen, Morten Schmidt, Kim Holst Jensen and Kristian Ahlmark, along with the four associated partners Trine Berthold, Kasper Heiberg Frandsen, Chris Hardie and Rasmus Kierkegaard.

With more than 25 years of experience, SHL architects is one of Scandinavia's most recognised, award-winning architectural practices committed to innovative and sustainable design. The practice has established an international reputation for projects that interact with their urban context. It places particular emphasis on the use of natural light as an integral part of the design process. The functionality – meeting the specific needs of the users – is also key, as are all aspects of sustainability. Where possible, the practice will explore the vital relationship between art, design and architecture.

Cultural centre of greenland in Nuuk

The Practice Architectural Philosophy

Common to all the practice's work is a democratic approach to architecture which creates modern, open and multi-functional spaces that are consistent with schmidt hammer lassen architects' ethical considerations – a building revolves around people and is not merely an architectonic shape. Architecture should be closely integrated with its surroundings, with close consideration of its functions and social context. SHL architects designs buildings that are essentially open to the outside world.

According to the practice, the great things always happen when an artist and an architect have the opportunity to collaborate from the outset on a given project. At SHL architects, we have always tried to ensure that each project enshrines the possibility for a real collaborative effort. We know how to deal with complex architecture.

ARoS Aarhus Museum
Alongside our collaborators, we develop entire sustainable solutions with high emotional value that benefits the environment, the users and the overall economy. Working many years on cultural buildings, office buildings, mixed use and master planning, we are used to solve complex and contradictive issues.

We develop integrated end-to-end solutions of the highest quality in a constant search for new ways and answers. We embrace the idea that architecture at its best creates unique, indefinable emotions and values, both from form, space, light and materials. SML creates architecture with a powerful, straightforward and significant attitude and constantly challenge the concept of sustainability, because each project must reach new standards.

In addition to above, the practice believes in architecture within a budget. All planning and building stages are tasked to achieve the most value for money, without compromising building size, construction methods, and quality of materials, technical equipment, and sustainability.

Prestigious Projects

In Scandinavia, schmidt hammer lassen architects is best known for the prestigious extension to the Royal Library – The Black Diamond, the ARoS Aarhus Museum of Art and the Cultural Centre of Greenland in Nuuk. The practice has a distinguished track record as designers of high-profile cultural buildings, such as art galleries, educational complexes and libraries. Recent projects include the Amazon Court office building in Prague, the City of Westminster College in London, the Thor Heyerdahl School in Norway, Aberdeen University New Library in Scotland and a number of construction projects and master plans in China and Eastern Europe, with a total of approximately two million square metres currently under development.

Office Tower Warsaw
The firm has also recently won the international architectural competition to design a 188 meter office tower in the financial district of central Warsaw, Poland. The 60,000 m2 highrise building is to replace the existing 'Ilmet' building and will stand out as a modern landmark clearly identifiable in the Warsaw skyline by its unique elegant shape and appearance. The Jury was impressed by the high quality and innovation evident in the urban, architectural and technical concepts of the winning design.

schmidt hammer lassen architects is a member of the Danish Association of Architectural Firms (DANSKE ARK) and is a RIBA Chartered Practice. More than 50% of the company turnover comes from international projects.


The firm had its major breakthrough with the Katuaq Culture Centre in Nuuk, Greenland, completed in 1997. The project in Nuuk was followed by first prize in the international competition for the extension of the Danish Royal Library on the harbourfront in Copenhagen. Completed in 1999, the library extension, colequally known as the Black Diamond, has become one of the practice's most known buildings.

The practice has won number of awards and recognition. The recent ones include: the Concrete Society Awards, shortlisted for City of Westminster College, Aarhus Municipality Award for Villa Busk/ Vibevej 27, Denmark, LEAF Award for The Crystal, Denmark, World Architecture Festival Awards, shortlisted in the categories learning for City of Westminster College, England and offices for The Crystal, Denmark, European Steel Design Award for The Crystal, Denmark, New London Award for City of Westminster College, England, LEAF, shortlisted in the category public buildings for City of Westminster College, England, RIBA Award in London for City of Westminster College, England, and many more.