Architecture of Surprise









Architecture of Surprise  

Superunion Architects

Superunion Architects is an office focusing on architectural production in a contemporary metropolitan and cultural context. The office was established in 2011 by architects Johanne Borthne and Vilhelm Christensen, and has had commissions in various scales including urban design, public space, programming, studies, housing, interior and graphic design. Additionally, the office is engaged in exhibitions, competitions and teaching. In 2011 Superunion Architects won the open competition to redesign Asker Square, and in 2012 the office won the competition for Ruten in Sandnes in collaboration with Space Group. The office was in 2012 nominated for Norsk Form’s Prize for Young Architects and the Iakov Chernikhov International Prize. In 2014 Wallpaper Magazine named Superunion Architects among twenty of the world’s best young practices in their Architects Directory. Founding partners Johanne Borthne and Vilhelm Christensen received Anders Jahre’s Prize for Young Artists in 2014.

Superunion Architects has its core competence in architecture and urban design, and operates in a network of collaborators that brings in specific competence for individual projects. In their office, architecture is not driven by the mind of an individual. They believe that new intelligent architecture emerge by learning and rewriting from the collective knowledge of past and present. Their common platform lies not in scale or program, but in the approach which is flexible and open-minded.

Thinking by doing.

The office works with dynamic, production based processes where the physical output is the basis for thinking and progressing. The dialogue with clients, collaborators and staff revolves around a process of continuous production and feedback. They believe that dialogue does not lead to compromise, rather a better solution.

Beauty and intelligence.

Their projects always begin with understanding and questioning the context. The context is unique and influences the concept, which they believe is the core of every project. For them, a strong concept is where all architectural elements are integrated in a single gesture that reacts intelligently to its context without being predictable. They want to create architecture that has an element of surprise, which can offer more than it seems at first glance. They are fascinated with beauty, it being a thoughtful masterplan or a beautiful sculpture. The ideal solution combines both – the pragmatic function with the beauty of design.


Concepts and strategies are never completed successfully without a precise implementation. They strive to always deliver a solid craftsmanship, in both presentation and realization.


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