A journey towards a new paradigm: Henning Larsen opens ‘Changing Our Footprint’, a provocative and explorative exhibition at Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin

Recognizing its responsibility to reduce the industry’s outsized environmental impact, global architecture practice, Henning Larsen is embarking on an ambitious journey.

Open at Aedes Architecture Forum until 22nd March 2023, ‘Changing Our Footprint’ is an exhibition that presents Henning Larsen’s small but scalable steps towards a desirable future through built projects, research, testing, and continuous learning.

With the theme of ‘rolling out the sketch paper’, Henning Larsen invites visitors to engage in a dialogue, asking difficult questions, collaborating to find better solutions, and continuously weighing the scope of impact.

“Henning Larsen is a company with a long history. We are founded on curiosity and a promise to share what we know with others. And so, this exhibition is our attempt to be transparent and open-source,” says Louis Becker, Global Design Principal, Henning Larsen

Divided into ‘Share’ and ‘Explore’, the exhibition is designed to share knowledge and explore biobased materials and new tools in the architectural process.

The exhibits, including projects, materials and learnings, are not meant to be the final answer but rather a response to the questions faced by the industry at this moment in time, continuing to evolve as new solutions are tested.

“As a company we are very experienced within architecture, but we are on a journey to develop our position, and this exhibition is an acceleration of change. For years we have worked full steam ahead focusing a lot on aesthetics, and now we are revisiting and rethinking the way we work. As sustainability becomes the main design driver, the buildings blocks of our industry are changing. But we still have much to learn, and unlearn, as we reshape our industry’s outsized environmental impact. Facing up to this footprint can be anxiety-provoking. But it also holds a wealth of opportunities. The perspective of opportunities has led us to embark upon the explorative and collaborative journey of changing our footprint,” says Louis Becker, Global Design Principal, Henning Larsen

The inspiration for the ‘Share’ room is ‘Unboxing Carbon’, an introductory course which provides knowledge and tools to calculate embodied CO2 for building materials.

Stepping inside the carbon box allows the visitors to explore, sense and understand the materials used in the industry and their footprint. Visitors can take part in an ‘unboxing carbon’ workshop by laying out the materials on display from good to bad, a large table provides the setting for collaboration and discussion.

Other exhibits highlight building communities and projects which share resources, such as cities, nature, water, our communities and our common ‘raw material bank’.

Open-source information is prioritized throughout, Henning Larsen’s wood and bio-based material publication ‘Plant a Seed’ is on display and can be downloaded for free, as well as the Unboxing Carbon Catalogue that collects architectural materials and presents complex data from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in a visually accessible and readily understandable way.

Explore’ considers the development and practical use of different biobased materials such as wood, straw, eelgrass, mycelium, reused bricks, low carbon concrete, and clay.

Topics such as transformation, design for disassembly, 3d printing, acoustics and indoor climate are investigated in greater detail, and new digital tools are available to interact with, including the Urban DeCarb app, which can calculate and inform planners on carbon impact on an urban scale.

“Our hope for this exhibition is to open a discussion about a new aesthetic in our built environment, where we are more open to new expressions, surfaces and textures, we hold a curiousness and a willingness to explore how to avoid waste material and build sustainably. As well as celebrating coming back to the materials, the textures, the hands-on experiences through new digital tools and processes, which we thought would distance us from architecture. We exhibit projects of all scale from around the world. Many of the tools and methods we develop and test need testing in a small scale and ‘close to home’, but all our exhibited objects and ideas have the potential to be scaled up, which is an absolute necessity for its’ relevance for the field – and in most cases this scale-up is already underway.” says Nina la Cour Sell , Design Director, Henning Larsen.

Designed to advance the dialogue the exhibition is amplifying, Henning Larsen will host a series of panel debates at Aedes Architecture Forum from 22nd February to 14th March.

Key experts and stakeholders will come together on stage to frame and debate the challenges, solutions and innovations on the topics of water management, adaptive reuse, biomass and timber architecture.

The stage itself is a manifestation of Henning Larsen’s central ambition to create a space of accountability and learning. Built of various ready-to-use floor, wall and ceiling materials, the stage exhibits the materials by ranking them according to their Global Warming Potential, or the amount of carbon equivalents, associated with the production phases of their lifecycles.



Photos by Rasmus Hjortshøj, COAST Studio