More than 20 years of activity of 3LHD, the authors of some of the key works of recent Croatian architecture, such as Hotel Lone in Rovinj, Riva Split Waterfront, or the Zamet Centre in Rijeka, has been marked by changes in architectural practice. During the continuous office growth and the increase in the scope and complexity of tasks, 3LHD has developed work methodologies in which an architectural firm is primarily a platform for coordinated production and exchange of knowledge.
The dynamics of development and implementation of large projects required innovations in the organization of the office in order to ensure intensive and effective cooperation within 3LHD. The complexity of the projects led to a number of collaborations with creative individuals from different disciplines, from artists to designers to structural engineers to technologists. They have been involved in the development of architectural concepts from the very beginning of the design process. The sensitivity of the tasks with which the firm was faced led to a strong media exposure of 3LHD's projects as well as fierce debates that in turn led architecture to the focus of public interest. All these phenomena that can be subsumed under the generic term “interactions” are the basis for the exhibition project that problematizes methods for creative work and cooperation, the complexity of the process of realization of buildings, and public reception and impact of projects. Rather than a retrospective of one firm, the exhibition affirms the collective creativity and the interaction of all participants in the process of making architecture.
The exhibition is treated as a regular 3LHD project, with the project number 250, and has emerged as a collective work of the core project team, the whole office, and associates. The layout is based on a modular three-dimensional system that forms an "interior city" within the space for temporary exhibitions in the MSU. The content is presented through 15 independent thematic units which problematize various aspects of creation and use of architecture. The focus of the exhibition is not on individual buildings, but on knowledge and competences involved in the processes of design and construction, as well as on the performance of architecture. The architects of 3LHD who originally were or still are involved in the development of the projects were also working on their presentations on the exhibition, where an effort was made to retain the authenticity of displayed material. In order to reconstruct the ideas, concepts and working processes, the collaborators and co-authors of 3LHD's projects were actively involved in the development of the exhibition by participating in the concept of presentation of their work and contributions. Visitors are left to choose their own paths through the exhibition and reveal relationships between individual units.
1_ Office - Over the years of growth, 3LHD has developed the organization of working processes to ensure the efficient utilization of intellectual resources. Working methods, protocols and tools including software allow the cohesion of the project team, ensure quality of project documentation and lead to an accurate relationship between the design and the realization.
2_ Brief - The project begins with an encounter with the brief: a set of input parameters to be shaped into architecture. No matter how predefined the brief is, it is subject to interpretations and readings. In a variety of projects, 3LHD has redefined programmatic elements, reshaped urbanistic codes into advanced concepts, as well as elaborated the brief basics in interaction with a number of experts.
3_ Structure - Due to the relatively limited technical capabilities and investment opportunities, more ambitious structural concepts are not so frequent in Croatia. 3LHD activates all available technological resources and cooperates with several regional construction companies that are specialized in contemporary structures, or engages atypical contractors such as shipyards.
4_ Complex Construction - 3LHD's works are often rich and complex in form, and require innovations in translating the spatial concept into an achievable technical and architectural solution. Important for this process is the collaboration with experts on the building's details and physics, as well as the coordination between contractors of various profiles.
5_ Substance - The physical substance of architecture are the materials, and their variety increases on a daily basis. At the same time, ever more technically advanced finished construction elements are available on the market. The substance of construction changes from material to product. 3LHD keeps up to date with this process, and itself takes part in the creation of custom-made construction products, designed, or developed specifically for a certain project.
6_ Total Design - Total design, with its long modern tradition, implies the coordination of all elements of the building where equal attention is given to all scales. From the initial phases of projects 3LHD starts the collaboration with product designers who participate in conceptual decisions, and influence the building's aesthetics. Collaborative projects result in products conceived specifically for particular projects, but their use may continue in further production. 3LHD's architectural projects in tourism have thus become testing ground for the development of contemporary product design in Croatia.
7_Graphic Design – Sometimes overlooked, systems of graphic navigation can significantly contribute to the performances of buildings. In more advanced forms, these systems are integrated into the design of the interior and the exterior. On all major public projects, 3LHD has collaborated with leading Croatian and international graphic designers who developed concepts closely related to the architecture.
8_Architects - Today, many architectural practices operate globally, which brings confrontation with different cultural, social and other contexts. In most countries, partnerships of international and local architects are required. These collaborations involve exchanges and interactions which have an effect on projects. 3LHD is involved in the import and export of architectural knowledge, seeking to affirm a partner relationship and exchange that are intellectually stimulating for both the "host" and the "guest".
9_Art - In Croatia, there is a strong tradition of collaboration between artists and architects on interior design. In place of the modernist concept of synthesis and a complete permeation of architecture, art and design, 3LHD and artists explore situations in which architecture and art preserve their autonomy but, at the same time, they achieve an active dialogue.
10_Education - 3LHD's partners participate in education at the Universities of Graz, Ljubljana, Split and Zagreb, as well as in numerous international workshops. The relationship between education and practice is reciprocal. Academic work is an opportunity to explore atypical themes and experimental approach is emphasized. In turn, workshop model and methodology of collective work informs 3LHD’s practice.
11_ Photography - Documentation of architecture relies significantly on a precisely codified genre of architectural photography, which usually shows buildings in their zero state, just at completion. However, it is the ways users interpret and use architecture that read particularly well in a photograph found on web services or social networks. 3LHD is one of the pioneers of digital 3D visualization in Croatia, and, within the firm, or in collaboration with specialized studios, applies it to test the concepts during design development, or as a medium for photo-realistic presentations.
12_City - 3LHD has dealt intensively with urban planning issues in most Croatian cities. Over time, it amassed a large number of completed and uncompleted projects, gaining experiences that continue interactively. Collected in one place, these projects represent "alternative" cities that promote the values of the return to the city cores, of urban densification, urban infrastructure improvement, and public space continuity.
13_Territory - 3LHD does not engage in the production of conventional spatial planning documents, but rather approaches physical planning from the perspective of research, focusing its attention on programmatic aspects and development processes that take shape in the interaction with local communities. In commissions for physical planning, 3LHD uses the format of research studies based in process-based and strategic approach.
14_Debate - High-profile public projects are the theme of intense media debate in which different sides are taken, and which often are not motivated by architectural quality itself but are rather concerned with identity, or even ideological issues. 3LHD was in the focus of some of the most intense public debates in Croatia, which the firm took as an opportunity not only to practice communication with the public, but also to question its own views.
15_Pavilions - Major international exhibitions provide a testing ground for different research projects ranging from new spatial concepts through critical and problem-related projects to media experiments. It is in the design of pavilions for Venice Biennale and EXPOs that 3LHD has realized the distinguished research-oriented projects, developed in large teams and through multidisciplinary collaboration.