Going inside the mind of Architect Thomas Mau, as he shares his thoughts about his personal approach to Danish Architecture.
“I always find a way into sustainability when working with function and aesthetics. Whether it is in the choice of material or it is in the use of resources. Sustainability has many paths and some of them are combined. I work with the concept of sustainability both on a very abstract, holistic level but also on a very specific, material related level. I have to, I am an architect.”
“Often, I navigate in large numbers of limitations. I like the idea of a limitation, it challenges the creative process and makes me want to strive to overcome the idea of being limited. Instead, it can be the aspect that defines the project in terms of creativity and vision. Every new project has its own limitations. Parameters such as geographic location and element of nature can set restrictions that reinforces the architectural intentions and help navigate the project to a sustainable and clever outcome.”
With a certain understated, but very personal appearance Thomas Mau represent his architectural outlook in person. The holistic way of interpreting life and architecture as meaningful topics both dependant on each other. It is on his spine. His professional task is to create good indoor spaces for the good life. In his work life, he draws private parcel houses and sketch bigger contracts with the same outlook. “The houses I design have to rest in themselves. On several levels. To me that is sustainability.”
The houses I design have to rest in themselves. On several levels. To me that is sustainability.
“I have many clients with requirements of sustainability in their new homes. The sustainable elements are mostly about choice of materials. It is about the tactile approach in the use of sustainable materials, which I think is fantastic. People have such a clear and beautiful vision of the good life. Within the last decade, the symbol of status in new-build houses has not changed to a new unrecognizable version, it is more about this new sustainability layer has been added to the perception of this status symbol.”
“My job is to add aesthetics concerning proportion and balance in the architecture. In the initial process my professional contribution is to view a new path and create a holistic output within the balance of compromises. The house, and the life to be lived inside of it, should be a self-sufficient organism. Where function and resources benefit from the location of the house and by that the house grows in sustainability index.”
“In Denmark we actually like that the used architectural material obtains some patina through the passage of time. And therefor as an architect, I research and make use of knowledge about the properties of the used materials, to forecast and visualize the progressive change in the future expression of the buildings.”
“My sustainability focus is on healthy materials used in the architecture. The healthy indoor climate is a very important factor in my architectural work. The choice of healthy and natural materials makes the house more climate-friendly on the bigger scale. I am a big fan of the Cradle to Cradle principle, but I think we still have a long way to go still before the upstream in the supply network can fully accommodate these circular ideas.”
“My preference has been, and still is, bricks. To build with bricks just fits our climate perfectly, but unfortunately, they challenge this during production when heated.. Bricks have this challenge in the production when heated. If all bricks could be produced from renewable energy sources, then bricks could remain the ultimate durable material to build in.”
“I have developed a love for wood. Wood as a sustainable material to process is brilliant. It holds a great function for acoustics and construction. And if well ventilated it can last for generations as structural core. The look, the feel, the softness and the visual appeal is unlike other materials. What is not to love.”
“And then, I am crazy about concrete. I would like to work with the material more than I do. But I have difficulties in accepting the C02 imprint from the mere production of cement. This is one of my favourite materials and I hope that in future the material could reach a C02 neutral state. In fact, it is a natural material made from seabed silica – but it is the heating in the preparation that challenges the sustainability in material use and substantiates the climate crisis.”
My preference has been, and still is, bricks. To build with bricks just fits our climate perfectly. Bricks have this challenge in the production when heated. If all bricks could be produced from renewable energy sources, then bricks could remain the ultimate durable material to build in.
When it comes to architecture of private houses, especially in areas with new established suburbs, the behaviour is community oriented. You are open to community as long as you do not cross the invisible line of privacy. It is just a non-verbal agreement made by the neighbours to create a room for community.”
“I have a soft spot for sculptural architecture. When all the instruments of the architectural toolbox have been measured and challenged and used to the maximum. When buildings communicate in a complex and refined way with references to both natural and synthetic aspects. It is a constant source of inspiration, to take a deep dive into the more artistic approaches to architecture. It is a renewable creative energy source.”
“I always strive to create a sense of surplus in the outcome of my work. In the room. In the building. In the concept. It brings to the table a flexibility in the work and makes it more adaptable for new future conditions. When the building has this conceptual surplus in the architecture, it builds in a resilience for the unknown future and that is to me very important when working with sustainability.”
Thomas Mau, Architect MAA, owner of Mauhaus, www.mauhaus.dk
Photos by Elise Mau
Words by Dea Simonsen