Behind the brand


As Banda add the finishing touches to their Rosemoor Studios project in Chelsea, SW3, we talk to Haptic Architects about their vision for the project and what it feels like to be joint winner of the Norwegian 'architectural competition of the century'.

Established in 2009 by Nikki Butenschøn, Scott Grady, Timo Haedrich and Tomas Stokke; Haptic Architects have swiftly forged an international reputation as one of the industry’s finest emerging talents. With studios in London and Oslo, Haptic’s ethos is to design buildings and spaces that are rigorous in their pragmatism, elegantly composed and above all, have a focus on quality and craftsmanship.

The name is no coincidence: Haptic is a  reference to the sense of touch, a guiding force for their design work. Director, Scott Grady explains they ‘strive to determine the haptical qualities for each project and how they benefit the users of our buildings. This translates into materiality, spatial relationships, light and the building’s relationship with the site.’

It is this approach and attention to detail that has led to a plethora of commissions. From referencing eroded granite rock formations to create an auditoria-style-stair for a Norwegian client to high profile projects such as working with Grimshaw Architects as part of a team to design team Istanbul’s new airport. Situated on the Black Sea coast, the finished project is set to be ‘the world’s largest airport terminal under one roof’. Haptic’s choice of work is intentionally broad, working across a range of sectors and in a variety of countries.

The focus on lighting within architecture, an integral element that dictates the structure’s form and internal spaces, is something of an ongoing study that Haptic are continuously exploring. For their Idunsgate apartment project in Oslo, the team designed an open suspended steel staircase that allowed for a subtle divide between the kitchen and living areas whilst enhancing the flow of light throughout the space. This ingenious solution provided no loss of light and created a much-needed sense of space for the client (image above). The project was featured in Dezeen’s ‘Most Popular Interior Designs of 2014’.     

Image above: a residential scheme in Norway

Haptic, now with a team of 20, are known for nurturing young promising designers and architects. Many young graduates among both their Oslo and London practices have proved themselves to be award winners rising stars in their own right – Nick Elias, a former winner of the RIBA Silver President’s Medal, Douglas Miller, a winner of the RIBA Donaldson Medal and Vanessa Lafoy, a former Bronze Medallist.

Forming their team from the best and brightest new talent has allowed Haptic to craft a niche for themselves in what is an increasingly competitive industry. It also grants them an ability to keep abreast of the new and latest trends: an integral factor in this fast paced world of architecture and design. 

Above image: CGI of the new government quarter in Oslo

Haptic have a number of projects on site, including the Rosemoor Studios residential scheme in Chelsea for Banda Property.  Set within Chelsea’s historic conservation area, where properties date back as far as 1830 and considered to be one of London’s most refined locations, Haptic planned the building as a “contemporary insertion into the historic townscape”.  It is yet another example demonstrating their skill for producing fresh and modern design within an exacting brief.

Currently Haptic are working on the Television Centre, the former BBC headquarters in White City, creating seven tailor-made Penthouse apartments on the listed Helios structure. The apartments are due for completion in 2018.

They have also recently been named joint winner for the new government quarter in Oslo in a contest dubbed the ‘competition of the century’.  The area is being completely redeveloped following a terrorist bombing in July 2011 and includes three existing and six large new buildings totalling around 150,000sq m of development (image below).

Tomas Stokke, director of Haptic, said: “This competition is one of the most extensive and complex we have ever participated in, with more than 50 people involved in our competition team. When completed, this project will set a new benchmark for offices in Norway and is a major stepping stone for our practice”

Closer to home the practice is acting as master-planners for the London Cancer Hub (LCH) in Sutton. This is set to become a new world-leading life-science district specialising in cancer research and treatment with research buildings, hospital facilities, a school, restaurants, cafes and hotel accommodation (image above).

The Banda Journal