Fancy popping over to Copenhagen for a couple of days? – Steve Manifold

Ja tak! (yes please!)

Uncovering inspiration and keeping up with emerging trends is a big part of the HBD process.

You’re influenced by what’s around you, so if you’re sat in the same spot day in, day out, your frame of reference becomes pretty narrow. When there’s an exciting project on the horizon, we like to get out of our comfort zones, get a fresh perspective and seek inspiration in the world’s most intriguing cities.

This time, that city was Copenhagen. We’d been working on a top-secret office development and knew we wanted to create something as progressive as possible, with well-being at its heart. So, what better destination than the happiest country in the world, where design is a democracy?

The project team planned the whole trip together, scoping out the hot spots we most wanted to visit. When we arrived, we knew we wanted to start with The Silo. A former grain store, this building has now been converted into apartments with galvanised steel panels that create striking balconies. As you can see, we were all in awe.

After a lot of walking, we decided the best way to see the sights was to zip from A to B on the city’s Lime Green scooters.

Next, we visited Park & Play, which is very much what it says on the tin. Located 24m above sea level, it’s a rooftop car park with a playground built in. Swings, benches, monkey bars, the works.

As pit stops go, this wasn’t a bad spot for lunch. We regrouped overlooking the harbour, and the United Nations (UN City). When you’re all coming to a project from a different angle, it can sometimes be tricky to understand everyone’s ideas. But a shared experience like this puts you all on the same page. You start drawing inspiration from what you’ve seen and done together, and become a tighter-knit team. It’s also an opportunity to bring partners into the fold too.

We all found it fascinating how the city is designed so functionally. You feel it’s been built with people in mind, and the Danes are a level up when it comes to sustainable urban planning. For example, almost 40% cycle daily, because they’ve created the infrastructure for it. Another thing we noticed – the city and water surrounding it are perfectly integrated. Kroyers Plads is a waterfront development that brings so much together, all in the Christanshavn neighbourhood of central Copenhagen.

And the last place to tick off our list, Axel Towers. This collection of mid-rise buildings totally challenges traditional and urban form. Completed in 2017, the housing development has already won iconic status within Copenhagen.

The world is always moving. So if we want to create spaces that respond to the shifts in how we work and live, we can’t stand still. There’s lots to do on our upcoming project, but our Copenhagen field trip has already sparked ideas and given us some powerful starting points. Where next?

Steve, Manchester