“We bring together the different parts of an orchestra”

How do young architects want to work? In this interview, oow associate Carsten Bergner talks about his path leading to oow, the effect of a good mood on designs and why diversity makes architecture better.

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“Without compromising aesthetics, a building must be completely functional.”

You joined oow at the beginning of 2019, practically overnight. How did that come about?

Well, not quite, but it all happened very quickly, that’s true. Robert, with whom I studied architecture at TU Berlin, had just started at oow and recommended that I apply too. I got an invitation for an interview right away and only two days later I was part of the team and working with them. When things fit, Mathis can make a decision very quickly. (laughs)

Is the job what you imagined it to be when you were in uni?

For the most part, yes. However, I completely underestimated the coordination with the various specialist planners. But I really enjoy it, so that’s a positive surprise. Sometimes this reminds me of my youth, when I played the trumpet in an orchestra. Except for the difference that as an architect I am now the conductor. We set the pace, distribute plans and documents, make inquiries with the individual planners and contractors, and coordinate everything. As architects, we bring the different parts together in such a way that everything works in harmony – and something really beautiful is created.

What is it about architecture that appeals to you in particular?

The interplay of craft and art. Of course, like all architects, I love the designs, the creative parts. But I also see the charm in implementation planning. Without compromising aesthetics, a building must be completely functional. This is what craftsmanship means. So-called paper architects, whose designs have never been built, have of course advanced many things through their visions. But often they remain academic musings. But when designs are actually implemented, these thought experiments actually reach people. And only then is the purpose of architecture fulfilled, I think.

What do you see as oow’s strength?

Everyone says it, here it’s really true: There is a really good atmosphere! (laughs) I am really deeply convinced that this also produces better results.

You’ll have to explain that!

We are a young and diverse team and we all just love to go to work. And no matter how long you’ve been on board: Everyone can contribute their ideas and will find an open ear. Such flat hierarchies naturally give rise to a completely different creativity than when no one really dares to contribute in rigid structures. Besides, it is much more efficient.

“We are a young and diverse team and we all just love to go to work.”

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How does this way of working influence your own career?

It absolutely gets you ahead! Everybody who wants to can take on a lot of responsibility very quickly. This is of course a great opportunity for personal development. I am also very pleased that going the extra mile will be recognised. After only two years with the company, Robert and I have just been promoted to Associate, which was great.

Diversity is a popular buzzword today that many companies use to promote themselves. But oow is really very international, the employees come from many different countries. How does this affect your work?

We all have very different backgrounds, be it our countries of origin or what we used to do before. One colleague even works for all the way from Greece. Our team language in the office is English, but of course we speak German with the clients. I think that the variety of lenses through which we look at projects is extremely helpful and enriching.

Do you have a favourite project?

I really enjoyed our large project in Ansbach, where we combine social housing with student flats. It’s great to see that you can build at a high standard at an affordable cost. Maximally social and still high quality, that’s a great project!

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