Member Since 2011
Name: Rahel Belatchew Lerdell
Expertise: Innovative and sustainable architecture.
In the past decade, Rahel Belatchew Lerdell has emerged as one of Sweden’s most interesting up-and-coming architects. The Ethopian-born, French-educated designer creates innovative and sustainable buildings with striking and luxurious architectural features. The future is green, we just have to build it.
What is your background?
I was born in Addis Ababa and moved to Sweden at the age of 8 and stayed there until I was 19. After high school I wanted to gain experience abroad and opted for Paris since I already knew some French. Paris was love at first sight and after a year of French studies at the Sorbonne, I applied for architectural studies at Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture. Then I went to Amsterdam and studied at the Berlage Institute.
After you completed your studies you lived and worked in several countries. Where?
After my graduation I went to Tokyo for an internship at the office of Kisho Kurokawa. I had already travelled to Japan a couple of times before on architectural journeys. I was fascinated by traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture as well as the landscape design of their traditional gardens. The Japanese approach exposed an immense creative freedom, each building was like an independent object with no relation to neighboring buildings or the rest of the urban structure. This was the total opposite from Paris where there are strict regulations maintaining the continuity of streets and city blocks. I also worked in Luxembourg for a few years.
Why did you move back to Sweden?
Prior to moving back to Sweden, I had experienced the changes the country went through during my regular visits in the ‘90s. With its predominant position during the dot-com era, Sweden had become an interesting country. On the personal level I also wanted to get closer to my family who had remained in the country.
What was your goal when you set up your practice?
Setting up a practice has always been the natural continuity of my studies. I also appreciate having the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects, from single-family houses to larger housing units and city planning.
How has your practice has evolved in the last decade?
Sustainability is today considered a natural part of every construction project and in real estate management where focus is primarily on energy consumption. The challenge in many projects around the country is to maintain the architectural quality. Unfortunately we see too many projects, especially in housing, only focusing on energy and cost savings and not providing sufficient architectural quality.
Did you know from the start that you wanted to emphasize sustainability in your designs?
Unfortunately, sustainability was not given any particular attention during my studies. My interest for the subject grew along with my awareness. Today sustainability should not be seen as a particular subject but a fully and naturally integrated part of every architectural project.
Portrait by Camilla Lindqvist.