Introducing: Series 1 – the Nordics

Published by Will Needham on

In this post, I’ll be introducing my first mini-series: a trip through the Nordics, meeting the people right at the cutting edge of the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industries.

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I’ve always been fascinated with the Nordics, but have never visited. My perception is of a group of countries where everyone is happy and everything just works. In the early stages of my career, I was fortunate to work for Skanska, a leading construction company in the region. I really enjoyed my time there.

What I loved most was the Swedish no-nonsense approach. Technologies that were obviously much better than competition were just adopted. No fuss. No resistance. It was the norm and I found this a refreshing perspective.

5 reasons I chose the Nordics to start my journey

There was a lot to draw me to begin my journey in the Nordics. Of all the reasons, I picked the main five and wrote a little more about why each influenced my decision.

  1. INSPIRING PROJECTS – Some of the most amazing projects I’ve ever come across are in the Nordics. I’ll be looking to meet the people working on them and uncover the fascinating stories in how they were designed and built.
  2. PROGRESSIVE STRATEGY/ POLICY – Some of the most progressive strategy and policy ideas I have seen. For example the ‘Oslo’ model of procurement and transparency with the construction labour force really interests me. I’ll be looking to dive deeply into how it works and whether it actually works by speaking to the people most affected by it.
  3. LEADING RESEARCH – Some of the best universities in the world can be found in the Nordics. I’ll be looking to meet up with leading researchers to ask them what topics are most important to them, right now.
  4. AMBITIOUS, GLOBAL STARTUPS – Increasingly a number of Nordic startups in the construction tech/ prop-tech space have gained traction in the UK and beyond. I can’t wait to talk to the entrepreneurs in the region striving to make a difference.
  5. MINIMAL AIR TRAVEL (for me!) – As mentioned in my previous article on Founding Values, I am consciously seeking to minimise my carbon footprint as I travel, where is it feasible. I will be offsetting all carbon emissions that emanate from this project at the end of each year. As the closest capital city to London, I will be flying into Copenhagen. I will travel overland with public transport between the other destinations. See full itinerary below.

Proposed itinerary

So, what’s the plan?

I think my time (and money) will be best spent by focussing on the main cities of Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Oslo, Stockholm, Turku and Helsinki. But my plans are not entirely fixed.

If you know of anywhere else I definitely should visit, with inspiring AEC professionals breaking the boundaries of what’s possible in other parts of the Nordics, let me know. I can happily make a detour!

Copenhagen (17, 18, 19 September)

Lille Langebro Cycle and Pedestrian Bridge by WilkinsonEyre

Gothenburg (20, 21 September)

Karlatornet (currently under construction) in Gothenburg. Karlatornet will be the tallest Nordic building ever built when completed (due 2021)

Oslo (22, 23, 24 September)

Lambda – the new home of Edward Munch’s artwork in Oslo. One of the first construction sites to follow ‘the Oslo model’ – an innovative policy interventions aiming for a more transparent procurement process and working conditions for works

Stockholm (25, 26, 27 September)

The Stockholm Metro has 100 stations and moves 1.2 million people every day (as of 2017)

Turku (28 September)

The port town of Turku is working towards an ambitious 2029 strategy, aiming to improve: (1) Well-being and activity in the city, and (2) Competitiveness and sustainable growth

Helsinki (29, 30 Sept, 1 Oct)

Tripla: is a gigantic mixed-use development under construction in the northern neighbourhood of Pasila, Helsinki

Who do you know in the Nordics working on cutting edge Architectural, Engineering or Construction related work?

Finally, I need your help in recommended exceptional people in the Nordic region who have a really interesting story to tell.

They could be: architects working on their most ambitious development yet. Or government officials responsible for implementing innovative urban policies. Or engineers figuring out how to keep the tallest building in the Nordics upright. Or researchers developing generative algorithms to improve how we design.

They should be working in any of the places I’ve mentioned in this post, and be willing to talk to me about their work.

Get in touch with me through any of my social media channels, or through this Contact Form.

Thank you!

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Will Needham

I believe in a future built environment that is safe, sustainable, healthy, efficient & productive. Actually, I believe pockets of excellence in each of these things already exist; they are just distributed geographically in different parts of the world. My mission is to go out there and find these pockets of excellence and tell the stories of the people, projects, policies that are responsible for such positive steps.

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