Portraits of Unbuilt Architecture | Mir

Mir is a small design studio located in Bergen, Norway; the city where its founders, Trond Greve Andersen and Mats Andersen, grew up. Tucked in between mountains and fjords, far away from the hustle and bustle of the world, Trond and Mats try to figure out new and exciting ways to remind us that we live in a fantastic world.

Grimshaw Foundation speaks to Trond, to find out more.

‘Portraits of unbuilt architecture’ is an intriguing phrase...

Isn't it? We call it portraits because we have no intention of being objective. A successful Mir image is a celebration of "differentness", both in terms of architecture and in how it is portrayed.

Why is visualisation important when it comes to the built environment?  

Visualisation can be the first spark of life for a project. Something as inanimate and abstract as an idea undergoes a metamorphosis and out comes an image, a spirit that can ignite fire. Like magic, the butterfly crawls out of its pupae and spreads it wings

Like magic, the butterfly crawls out of its pupae and spreads it wings.

Could you tell us about the name Mir?  

Mir means Peace or World. We are named after a Russian space station. Can you believe that they sent people into outer space and to the moon almost 50 years ago with those crude analogue tools?

Could you talk about the role of nature in your visualisations?

Nature is everything, not just in our work. We grew up kind of in the countryside, the mossy forests were our playgrounds. We would run around like small, dirty trolls and build small cabins out of trees that we chopped down with huge knives that we stole at home. We caught trout in small streams and captured insects for miniature gladiator wars. When we started Mir we moved to the city and dreamed about becoming cool urban dudes. But nature pulled us back in. Now we live outside of the city center; we go for hikes in the mountains, fish for salmon in the rivers, forage mushrooms and have vegetable gardens that feed us in the few warm months here in Norway. We want to show people that nature is the way. Without nature, we have nothing.

When we started Mir we moved to the city and dreamed about becoming cool urban dudes. But nature pulled us back in.

Does Mir have a house style or does it vary from project to project?  

We have a methodology that perhaps influences what our images look like. But we do not aim for any style. Since we aim to make images that stand out from the crowd, we have to adjust the "style" of the images based on what the crowd looks like. 

Could you share a project from sketch to finished project? It would be super interesting to see how it all comes together...

Our sketches look exactly like the finished images, only in lower resolution. In a strange way, we don't even have a process. We just make a lot of images, and then we select the ones that look good.

Your work seems very playful – I love the fancy dress lab coats on your team page! I noticed a coffee-maker-bunker on your website, too. Is it all as fun as it looks?

How interesting! I love my job but I would never characterize it as fun. Managing our clients legacy and potential outcome of projects makes it difficult to be light-hearted. When we succeed at making something that has an impact on culture it is extremely rewarding - rewarding way beyond what I imagined it could be when I first got into this profession. But it is also hard and demanding to always try to push the bar and not just follow the mainstream. I am proud of making images that promote architects who aspire to be different. On a good day we can remind people how awesome it is to be alive and spread a positive belief in a great future.

By Sammi Gale

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