Aware – architecture and senses

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A new exhibition at the Danish Architecture Center lets us feel how architecture affects us emotionally

What effect does architecture have on our quality of life? Why do some spaces make us feel safe while others do the opposite? How can architects work concretely and systematically with something as individual and all-encompassing as senses and emotions? These questions and many more are explored in the exhibition Aware – architecture and senses. The exhibition will be on display at the Danish Architecture Center from 22 March to 15 September 2024.

In the exhibition Aware, visitors will experience how architecture is a spatial art that appeals to our senses. Through the exhibition, visitors will experience for themselves how architecture is not only a technical discipline, but also an artistic form of expression that can inspire wonder, reflection, and connection between people. Space can create excitement, awe, pause, contemplation, and can inspire new and unexpected relationships between people.

The internationally recognized design studio 3XN/GXN stands together with the Danish Architecture Center behind Aware. The studio’s work is driven by the conviction that architecture should give something back – to people, to communities, and to the planet. Since its foundation in 1986, the studio has specialised in creating innovative buildings that promote positive experiences and human relationships through their design.

Be enveloped and engulfed by an undulating wooden cocoon, experience connection across an endless staircase and kaleidoscopic mirrored walls

In Aware, you enter a world where you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy and under-stand. Here, it’s about using the senses: feeling the impact and the difference when you move quickly or slowly, close your eyes, or simply stop for a moment.

From the moment you enter, you are enveloped in sequence by six full-scale, unique installations that speak to our emotions. Through this series of spaces, the exhibition nudges the visitor to realise and question how space can define atmospheres and shape moods.The experience is emphasized by an immersive sound universe created by the trio Mesmer and lighting design by Jesper Kongshaug.

Discover how a staircase not only connects different levels, but also creates space for an encounter with those visiting the exhibition at the same time as yourself. Nestle yourself into a wooden cocoon and feel how space can soothe and protect. Or gaze up at large kaleidoscopic mirror walls that transform the viewer’s reflection and the surroundings into prismlike patterns. Each of these space emphasise and twist what we expect from architecture, giving us a new insight into how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. And the opportunity for the guests to talk to each other about what they are experiencing and encounter the architecture in a new way.

The last part of the exhibition speaks to the need to understand how behavioral design is used in practice to create a better framework in our society. Through concrete examples, Aware shows how architecture can shape our behavior and create better societal frameworks. It is about more than buildings; it’s about creating environments that promote well-being and positive interactions between people.

A holistic view of sustainability

It is expected that the world population will expand from 8 to 10 billion by 2050, 70% will live in cities. Construction and our buildings globally account for around 40% of annual CO2 emissions. We therefore face conflicting dilemmas: how do we responsibly accommodate a growing population when we also know that our planet needs us to build less?

We live in a time with significantly more expectations and demands for sustainability as a fundamental, built-in responsibility in architecture. For many, sustainable architecture is a certain type of architecture with a specific appearance and a measurable foot-print. But sustainability is also fundamentally about the ability to last over time, which depends in no small part on how we humans co-relate with architecture.

»For a space to continue to function and be loved, it is important to understand how we are connected to it, how it affects us and how it makes us feel,« explains Kim Herforth Nielsen, founder of 3XN .

»In Denmark and throughout Scandinavia, there is a very strong sense of responsibility for the collective. This responsibility is also about well-being – that our society and space must nurture, support and facilitate a good quality of life for everyone. In order for architecture to contribute positively to our well-being, we must understand its core: what is our relationship with architecture, what does it do to us?« says Kasper Riisholt, program manager for culture at the Danish Architecture Center.

The exhibition Aware will be shown at the Danish Architecture Center from 22 March to 15 September 2024.

About the Danish Architecture Center

DAC is an international cultural attraction that shapes engaging experiences and de-bate around architecture and design. Here you can experience exhibtions, tours, events, shop for design products, and enjoy spectacular views over the city from the DAC café’s large roof terrace.

DAC is a public-private partnership between Realdania and is state-represented by the Ministry of Business, Industry, and Financial Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

About 3XN GXN

Across diverse typologies and scales, 3XN’s work is driven by the conviction that architecture should give something back to people, to communities, and to our planet. Since 1986, 3XN has specialised in transformational projects: projects that give obsolete structures new form and character, that transform dormant neighbor-hoods into thriving cultural hubs, or that unite disparate organizations into collabora-tive communities. A commitment to the highest standards of sustainability and design excellence unites the studio’s portfolio. Form and performance are not at odds, but rather continuously enhance and shape one another.

GXN was founded in 2007 by 3XN with the aim of exploring architecture’s unique potential for effecting positive change. Through the remit to explore beyond traditional architectural practice, GXN has developed a unique cross-disciplinary methodology of feeding research into the built environment and letting the questions of practice direct the research. This freedom allows GXN to work independently and across scales and disciplines. In this relationship, we are challenged by the diverse needs of clients and teams in real-world cases. Today 3XN and GXN are two inde-pendent, symbiotic, mutually-beneficial companies with aligned missions, sharing studios in Copenhagen and London.

With offices in Copenhagen (HQ), Stockholm, Sydney, New York, and London, the diverse perspective of 3XN GXN’s global practice gives greater depth to its holistic methodology which prioritizes behavior, curiosity, and circularity.


Aware has been developed by 3XN/GXN in collaboration with the Danish Architecture Center.

The exhibition is supported by the philanthropic association Realdania, Knud Højgaards Fond, Arup, Beckett Fonden, Ole Kirks Fond, Statens Kunstfond and Danmarks Nationalbank’s Jubilæums fund.

Also thanks to Spekta, iGuzzini, Kvadrat, Mesmer & Jesper Kongshaug.

Partnership behind Danish Architecture Center.