Dorte Mandrup specialises in irreplaceable places. By shaping a dialogue between context and architecture, we evoke and enhance the existing to create new relevance. At the heart of our practice is a profound responsibility towards humans and nature. Designed to transcend time, our architecture is defined by a sense of place, identity and beauty. Striving towards the ultimate synthesis, we unite art and science to push the boundaries of form and materiality.
Our irreplaceable heritage
Working with irreplaceable places is an exhilarating struggle. It’s a negotiation between place, history, culture, and the architect brought in to create new meaning: To highlight the existing and create new relevance.
Equipped with an artistic footing and a scientific toolbox, we challenge a place and accentuate its inherent qualities. We contrast the existing and create tension between the character of the place and the architectural design that elevates the meaning of the place.
Pragmatic and unromantic. Contextually aware but without melancholy.
That is what we demand of ourselves when we are trusted with the responsibility to re-imagine or create an irreplaceable place – to evoke its core and illuminate its potential.
About the studio
With Founder and Creative Director Dorte Mandrup firmly at the wheel, we dive headfirst into complex architectural tasks armed with unconditional curiosity and undying love for finding an original take.
Founded in 1999, our studio has grown to become an internationally renowned name working across geography and scale. Our Scandinavian heritage makes us naturally consider all human-scale aspects of our approach to solutions. We create architecture with a sense of place, and a unique sense of materiality.
We design architecture from an artistic starting point. At its best, this leads to architecture as art and art as architecture. Driven by a devout belief in the possibilities of modern architecture and an experimental curiosity that insists on outstanding craftsmanship, our team combines a firm grasp on reality with the courage to push the boundaries of form and materiality.
Studies in both sculpture and ceramics, and medicine have influenced Dorte Mandrup’s approach to architecture, which has always been ‘hands-on’. Shape and form constitute the company ethos - to create spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, contextually relevant, and invite people to engage.
Dorte Mandrup graduated from the Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark in 1991. Eight years later she founded her Copenhagen-based studio where she continues to be Creative Director. Her design philosophy and artistic yet systematic mindset permeate the entire office as she is design responsible for all projects.
As a humanist with a distinct nonconformist outlook, Dorte Mandrup is well known for her commitment to the development of the architectural practice and her frequent participation in public debates. Receiving national and international acclaim for her work, in 2018 Dorte headlined at the curated international exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia.
Dorte is member of the Architecture Section in Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, former member of the Historic Buildings Council in Denmark, Chair of the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award 2019, Adjunct Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and holds frequent visiting professorships abroad, in 2018 at Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and from 2021 at Mendrisio Accademia de Architettura, Switzerland.
Areas of expertise
With a focus on both protecting and developing, Dorte Mandrup has a keen eye for incorporating the elements of the surrounding environment. Our forte lays in ambitious projects for places and settings that require a high degree of sensibility, with most of our work found in the world of landmarks, transformations, mixed use buildings, and education & workspace.
Through prestigious cultural heritage projects, we have demonstrated a unique ability to evoke fragile places. Proudly, our portfolio today includes five UNESCO related projects and numerous ones concerning listed buildings.
The art of the successful transformation lies somewhere between the past and the future. When faced with the task of transforming – or adding to – an existing building, Dorte Mandrup immerses itself in a process of analysing existing structures and function, and in researching future needs and desires. Somewhere in the middle – in the present – lies the potential for innovation, whether it be found by stripping down to a fundamental, original structure or by preserving an idea or a quality.
Education & Workspace
Creating a well-functioning workspace or a learning environment is nothing short of a gigantic, architectural jigsaw puzzle. The Dorte Mandrup approach is a balanced diet of listening and challenging: listening to and acknowledging the intricate patterns of workflow and user activities, while challenging the presumptions and traditional ideas of what a workplace or learning environment is. Gathering and processing large amounts of data, visualising a framework for human behaviour and taking the identity and brand of the client into consideration, are all prerequisites for a successful result. A real-life 3D jigsaw puzzle of epic proportions!
Complexity! Is a keyword in understanding the process behind architectural projects classified as Mixed Use. Complexity sums up the experience of designing a solution that accommodates all the specific needs and desires of diverse target groups, whose only common ground may be the physical site on which they reside. Combining housing, shops and public spaces is no small feat and requires in-depth analysis and a capacity for diversified solutions. Dorte Mandrup has many years of experience dealing with mixed use projects and is the go-to office for complicated assignments.
Culture & Landmarks
Culture & Landmarks are those projects that we simply HAVE to do; projects that beckon us and pull at our artistic heartstrings, whether it is the assignment or the place that requires something out of the ordinary. Stemming from humanistic values, we relish designing spaces that endorse cultural activity and working on cultural heritage sites such as UNESCO. Some landmark and cultural projects quickly reveal themselves in the conceptional phase, whereas others develop over time in public opinion – but all with artistic validity and originality at the core of their being.
Selected Awards & Distinctions
AZ Awards 2023, Canada, Buildings Over 1.000 SqM, Ilulissat Icefjord Centre, Greenland
AZ Awards 2023, Canada, Ideas, Prototypes and Unbuilt Projects, The Whale, Norway
Global Award for Sustainable Architecture
Danish Swedish Culture Foundation's Honorary Award
Monocle's "Architect of the Year" Award
The Order of Dannebrog, The Danish Royal House
German Design Council - ICONIC Awards 2021 "Architects of the Year", Germany
The Meyvaert Museum Prize for Sustainability, the Wadden Sea Centre, Denmark
Environmental Leadership Award, AZ Awards 2020, Canada
Kunstpreis Berlin (Berlin Art Prize), Architecture Section Award, Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts), Germany
Chairwoman of the Jury, European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award
"CONDITIONS" an exhibition at the curated 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy
Honorary Grant, Statens Kunstfonds (The Danish Arts Foundation), Denmark
Finn Juhl Architecture Award 2018, Wilhelm Hansen Fund, Denmark
Breeam Building of the year, Sweden Green Building Awards 2017, IKEA Hubhult Global Meeting Centre, Sweden
The Art, Design and Architecture Award of the Year, Dir. Einar Hansen and wife Vera Hansen Foundation, International
Green Good Design Award, The Chicago Athenaeum, Chicago
Hæderslegat (Honorary Award), Danmarks Nationalbanks Jubilæumsfond af 1968 (Danish National Bank Jubilee Fund), Denmark
WAN Metal in Architecture Award 2016, Salling Tower, Denmark
TRÄPRISET (Swedish Timber Prize), Råå Preschool, Sweden
Gröna Lansen 2016, IKEA Hubhult Global Meeting Centre, Sweden
German Design Council - ICONIC Award 2015: "Architecture - Public with distinction", Råå Preschool, Sweden
WAN Best Mixed-Use Building Award 2015, Sundbyøster Hall II, Denmark
WAN Education Award, Amager Children's Culture House, Denmark
AIT Award, Amager Children's Culture House, Denmark
"Store Arne" Award, Danish Association of Architects, Munkegaard School, Denmark
C.F.Hansen Medaillen (The C.F. Hansen Medal), Denmark
Nykredits Arkitekturpris (The Nykredit Architecture Prize), Scandinavia
Grant, Hans Kongelige Højhed Prinsgemalens Fond (HRH Prince Consort of Denmark Foundation), Denmark
Eckersberg Medaillen (The Eckersberg Medal), Denmark
Direktør N. Bang og Hustru Camilla Bangs Legat (Director N. Bang and Camilla Bang Grant), Denmark
Dreyers Fonds Hæderspris (The Dreyer Foundation - Honorary Award), International
Bauwelt-Preis (Bauwelt Award), Neighbourhood Centre, Jemtelandsgade, Denmark
Træprisen (Danish Wood Award), Denmark
How we work
As a result of Dorte Mandrup’s educational background in sculpture and natural science, the studio’s method is defined by a formal restlessness that materializes in deep, contextual analysis and explorative prototyping. This preoccupation with exploring sculptural and material qualities of architecture leads to artful, intriguing spaces. Spaces that foreground their environment and the conditions from which they arise.
Our understanding of context goes above and beyond mere observation and towards an inquisitive, open, and highly subjective interpretation of all accessible facts, figures, and feelings. With steadfast integrity and a tenacious approach to quality, the result is classic yet contemporary architecture characterized by a pragmatic sensibility and contextual cohesion.
Only if clients and partners alike share the highest level of architectural ambition, are we successful in creating extraordinary architecture. Only when we share courage and patience to explore and experiment. That is why we choose our projects carefully. That is why we choose our clients carefully.
In the end, the extraordinary requires nerve.