People profile: senior architect Sebastian Reumert

Sebastian Reumert joined Chapman Taylor in 2021 and has recently been promoted to join our Executive Group. Sebastian has a keen interest in researching and developing an understanding of local cultures before developing design solutions that are successful for the space and he talks about some of the influences that have led to this approach.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Copenhagen - I'm Danish. My dad is a Danish painter and my mum is an Icelandic anthropologist. It was quite an artistic imprint! We moved to Berlin just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, at around the age that I was learning to talk. So, my first language was actually German.

From an early age, I was exposed to lots of different cultures. Every summer, we would always go to a new country and stay there for the duration of the holidays. Kind of a cultural sabbatical. We’d immerse ourselves in the country we visited.

Why did you move to Berlin?

I think at that time, after the fall of the wall, it was just an exciting place to be as an artist, so my father wanted to try to live there.

My mum and I returned to Denmark when I was five years old, as the German schooling system felt quite ‘formal’ compared to the approach in Scandinavia. In Denmark, you start school at around six or seven. The whole system is quite flexible, and you can change your career path until really very late, with lots of different kinds of courses and educational programmes on offer. It’s also normal to have gap years; take time before or after university to try and identify your true vocation.

Did you enjoy art as a child?

I think there was only room for one artist in the family! Art wasn’t necessarily a path that my dad encouraged for his children. He didn’t really fit the mould of the ‘struggling artist,’ but nevertheless, he wanted me to find another, more stable, career.

Global Action Aid volunteering work

What did you do after school?

To be honest, after high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I went to a circus school but realised it wasn't really for me. After that, I moved to New York and did a life drawing course. I also did a three-month fine arts course that I found interesting. An eclectic mix!

Back in Denmark, I attended a ‘højskole’ which is an art boarding school, where I studied architecture. While I was waiting for my results which would determine my University entry, I also did a four-month carpentry course, and earnt money as a waiter at an Italian restaurant.

What came next for you, after the højskole course?

I applied and was accepted at the Aarhus School of Architecture.

During my bachelor year, I volunteered for Action Aid Denmark. I was a project manager and designed interiors for schools in Copenhagen, Nairobi, Yangon and Bethlehem. I spent time in each location, to ensure the learning spaces were delivered to the highest quality. This gave me a unique insight into how these quite distinct cultures design for their own particular learning styles. We created different environments, for example in Myanmar the children would favour sitting on the floor, but in Kenya each child would have a hard backed chair. It became clear to me then, that as a designer I have a responsibility to get to know the culture first before producing design solutions. This is something I’ve carried with me into my current career.

After that, I did my Part I work placement in Zurich, Switzerland. I love Swiss architecture and was determined to work there. I actually went to Switzerland with my family, on holiday, and I walked around hand delivering my CVs and portfolios to different practices.

In Swiss architecture, everything is so sharp and finely executed. They put so much care into detailing and developing their projects. I think that way of working is really fascinating. I stayed there for a year, and I got to do some really interesting conceptual work.

I also helped to organise an exhibition about collective living at the Vitra Museum in Basel. In Austria, Switzerland and Japan, it's very normal to design residential spaces for this purpose. For example, in a shared building, each resident might have their own studio flat with a little kitchen and a bathroom, with access to bigger community spaces where they can host friends or meet other residents. It gives the opportunity for a bit more privacy than a lot of ‘house shares’ that you see in the UK, for example, but also the chance to be more sociable when it suits you. In this exhibition, we built large-scale models of houses or parts of houses, which you could really experience when walking around.

Communal living is something that’s now filtering through to the UK market. You see it in some of the amazing amenity provisions created for Build-to-Rent projects like Kampus in Manchester. Right now, I’m working on a masterplan competition for a BTR project in Cyprus, for Chapman Taylor.

What made you come to the UK?

I went back to Aarhus from Switzerland to finish my master's degree. Also on my course was a British girl, who became my girlfriend, and is now my wife! I moved to the UK with her in 2018.

Before Chapman Taylor, I worked for a few different firms, including Purcell, where I focused on the technical delivery of a high-end residential project. It was a fascinating introduction to UK working life and I learnt a lot about the specific regulations that exist in the UK market. After that, I moved to a company called BUJ architects. There, I cut my teeth on construction, detailing and delivery. This learning process was integral to my growth as an architect.

After working on the delivery side of architecture I was looking to shift back to my passion which is the front end of design, I was looking to join a design-led practice. After interviewing at different practices, I decided to join Chapman Taylor in 2021. It's been very interesting, and I’ve been taken good care of.

Concept for a Market place

You’ve been working on some big masterplans in the studio. Can you tell me about these and the tools that you use?

I’ve been working on some truly inspiring projects that have included the regeneration of dense historic neighbourhoods.

What is exceptional about the way that we create masterplans in this studio is our ability to design holistically. We can ensure that the overarching creative vision is represented in all aspects of the masterplan, right down to each little detail of the public realm and buildings.

I value Chapman Taylor's narrative-driven approach and how it permeates all of our design concept work. It aligns with the way that I was taught.

Animations can be a powerful tool, to convey the character and atmosphere of a project, because it's very easy to put yourself in that scenario. We put so much effort into making these animations feel authentic and truly represent the sense of place that we are creating.

I really enjoy testing and finding the appropriate tools to use. For example, we used Revit to design a masterplan for a 14-hectare site, and we could demonstrate how the place feels when you walk around the city, almost on a real-life scale. Revit ensured the team could work together in real-time, collaboratively.

Designing responsibly is an important aspect of my work. I am part of a group that tests a variety of software to ensure we are using the best data available to inform our projects. The software creates different parameters which we utilise to interrogate and develop design options. For example, at concept stage we can test the success of the public realm by running wind analysis to understand pedestrian wind comfort. We can then use this data to inform the placement of typologies such as restaurants, cafes and playgrounds.

Finding the right technology is crucial to illustrating the vision.

Concept for a residential masterplan

What most inspires you about your job?

I love problem-solving; envisioning what the architecture could be or become. To help people think differently about their environments. We invest time researching and developing an understanding of the local culture before we develop design solutions that work and are successful for the space.

Some places, that have suffered neglect, can be like a broken puzzle. You have to put the pieces back together and respect what was there before when adding new pieces, but you also need to enhance and embrace the new. It’s a delicate balancing act. In one place, we created a new market building on a complex sloping site that weaves in and around historical buildings. It acts as a bridge between its history and the vision for the future.

Agricultural and Wedding Barn

What are you looking forward to, in the future?

I’ve just joined the Executive Group at Chapman Taylor, and I’m looking forward to contributing to an open working culture where everyone’s voice is valued. As a group of architects and designers, we rely on each other's individual passions a lot, and on our collective skills to create innovative responses to projects. I'm excited to continue learning from others and supporting those around me. I’m naturally a curious person, and I’m open and positive. I always want to try to listen to people and be consultative. I think this is when some of the best work is produced; when everyone feels like they have a place to share their ideas.

I've always been fascinated by urban design. One of my biggest heroes is Jan Gehl, a Danish urban planner. I’ve studied a lot about him and he always seems to be whispering in my ear while I design, so I hope he’ll continue to do so! I’ve always found the history of architecture fascinating, and since moving to the UK it’s been great to attend lectures and visit significant buildings here. I’ve enjoyed lots of different road trips to see some of my big heroes’ work, such as Caruso St John and David Chipperfield.

Later in my career, I would like to work more directly with clients, to have the opportunity to explain our design concept and inspire them so we all fully buy into the creative vision. To be able to demonstrate my passion and articulate my ideas.

I am looking forward to settling down into married life! I got married this summer. The wedding took place at my fiancé’s family’s farm, in Kent. Along with my father-in-law, I built a hundred-metre square wooden barn, which was our wedding venue. It took three months to build, two of which were intensive - I took a sabbatical to be able to do this. It felt good to have used my carpentry skills to create such a special day. It’s now going to be repurposed as a working barn. It will hold the tractor and some sheep.

Sebastian Reumert (BA (Hons) MArch MAA)

Senior Architect

Sebastian joined Chapman Taylor in 2021 and has become a key member of our team due to his passion for detail and technical knowledge. He also champions the use of high-quality images and animations. In recognition of this, he was recently promoted to join Chapman Taylor’s Executive Group.

Sebastian has extensive residential experience having worked on a wide variety of projects in the UK, Norway, Denmark and Germany. Sebastian speaks four languages and has a keen interest in researching and developing an understanding of local cultures before developing design solutions.

Areas of expertise:

Mixed-use / Residential / Masterplanning / Urban regeneration

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