Interview with designer Gudjon Thor Erlendsson (GE), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Ydyo University Classroom Building.

For High-Resolution Images & More Info Visit:

Interview with Gudjon Thor Erlendsson at Sunday 24th of April 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
GE : The design is a convergence of function and context, driven by the ideas of generative design. Rather than imposing a formal approach to the project, the design emerges from the design process.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
GE : The brief was very dense with functions for a small site. It was therefore important to be able to offer a variety of public spaces and access nodes. The building needed to have its own character, while at the same time be comfortably contextual.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
GE : The design sets forth a certain design vision for the University, which has a strategic growth ambition. We hope to carry on developing imaginative academic projects going into the future.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
GE : The design process took about 9 months to develop.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
GE : The design was commissioned after we had done some other projects for the university.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
GE : Our interest in computational and generative design is well suited for imaginative and innovative institutions in the academic and technological sectors.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
GE : We have an office design language which has been developed over 15 years. Our biggest inspirations come from nature.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
GE : The target customer is the university board of directors, but our ultimate customer is always the user. Both researchers, teachers and students.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
GE : A classic multi-storey classroom building is a vertically stacked program with public and external spaces limited to the ground floor level. The design exploits the challenging context proposing a morphed and weaved version of the classroom archetype. As it reaches to the ground the building open ups, bisects and expands. This creates multiple public and external spaces at various levels and configurations.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
GE : The name of the project is the official name; YDYO stands for "Yabanci Di̇ller Yüksel-Oulu" or "Foreign Language Building"

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
GE : We used variety of digital tools.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
GE : The most obvious formal aspect is the cantilever of the tall classroom block, a unique challenge in an earthquake zone.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
GE : The project was a joint venture between AUDB, Ozlem Akin and Michael Young. Each brought a particular skill to the work. The result is an interesting fusion of the various skillets.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
GE : Although technology and techno-theory is a fundamental driving force in the project, the aim was to minimise any obvious techno-aesthetics in order to better fuse the building into the context. Especially the internal spaces are very raw and industrial, which reflects some of the existing buildings on campus.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
GE : Solar analysis algorithms were used at the start of the project to drive a layout that minimised solar gain. We try and use digital and information analysis in all our work. It is a core company ethos.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
GE : The biggest challenge was the ambition of the original brief, which far exceeded the allocated space on campus. Through collaboration with the users, we were able to focus and streamline the brief.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
GE : We were nominated.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
GE : Every project is a learning experience which helps us grow as designers.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
GE : The success of projects like these are usually based on the vision and drive of the client. With work we have been doing at Izmir University of Economics, we have been very fortunate to have an exceptional client in the Board of Directors.