I’m an independent architect-urbanist working with social and environmental problems in cities. I’m critical of current trends in architecture and urbanism, including the concepts of “star-architecture” and “smart city”, and engaged in theoretical and practical experimentation with co-evolutionary architecture and development urbanism.
Born in Denmark (1966), the son of visual artist Mogens Valeur and fashion designer Birgitte Valeur. My grandfathers were both civil engineers. A paternal great-great grandfather was the owner of Nørre Vosborg manor while a maternal great-great grandmother was a gypsy who’s job it was to remove the night soil of other people.
Have worked as a paperboy, a temporary teacher in elementary school and as unskilled labor in industrial laundering, a refugee camp and a supermarket.
Studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, from where I graduated in 1994, and with Enric Miralles at Escola Tècnica Superior d’Architectura de Barcelona (1991-92). Worked briefly for Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam (1994-95).
“His ability to quickly assimilate complex situations and requirements combined with a critical design sensibility made for valuable contributions.” Christophe Cornubert,
partner in charge, OMA, 1995
Founded UiD (Un-identified) in 1997 – a networking urban consultancy and a pioneer in the field of collaborative and participatory planning and design. Some of our early works were exhibited at the Danish Architecture Centre:
“These are radical attempts at a new architectural practice.” Allan de Waal, architecture critic, Information, 1999
Developed the architectural concepts of “real time living” and “self-organizing spaces”, “garden flats” and “green streets”, the concept of “parallel processing” in urban planning and the related planning tools “1:1 sketch model”, “4D+ model” and “change design model”.
Based on a combined role-play and scenario game with local stakeholders, UiD created the structure plan and the process manual (there is no masterplan) for the development of Musicon, a creative district located on a 25ha brownfield site in Roskilde. The Municipality of Roskilde received the Danish Urban Planning Award in 2012 for the “exceptionally creative planning” of Musicon.
Curator of the Danish Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2006. Introduced the concept of “co-evolution” in architecture (in contrast to the “star architect” concept) and conceived and orchestrated the project CO-EVOLUTION: Danish/Chinese Collaboration on Sustainable Urban Development in China. Denmark was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation:
“We salute the creativity, intelligence, and generosity of the Danish pavilion.” The jury, Richard Sennett (President), Amyn Aga Khan, Antony Gormley and Zaha Hadid, Venice Biennale, 2006
Founded UiD Shanghai Co., Ltd in China in 2007. Designed the “Bicycle Tower” which was exhibited in the Urban Best Practice Area at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.
Gave the Le Corbusier Memorial Lecture in Chandigarh, India, in 2010, noting that: “The problem with modernist architecture is not only that it tries to erase the past; it also obstructs the future.”
Invented the term “development urbanism” the same year in order to describe the possible use of urban development as a means to combat poverty and protect the environment in the so-called “developing” world. Author of the book India: the Urban Transition – a Case Study of Development Urbanism (2014), which is based on my experiences as a teacher, researcher and practitioner in India:
“The fine grain reading of issues in the Indian city is an important contribution so is the attempt to connect so many dots to make sense of the moving targets we encounter in Urbanism in India.” Rahul Mehrotra, Indian architect, Professor and Chair of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University, 2014
Have talked about my work in India at Harvard University (South Asia Institute), University College London (Development Planning Unit), Politecnico di Milano (Open City Summer School), and at various institutions in India, including the Centre for Policy Research (New Delhi), the Tata Institute of Social Science (Hyderabad) and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (Bangalore).
Have served as a jury member of architecture competitions, including the 7th Sao Paulo International Biennial of Architecture and the IFHP Ranko Radovic Student Competition; as a convener, moderator and speaker at seminars and conferences, including the UIA’s XXIInd World Architecture Congress in Istanbul and the Chinese Academy of Engineering’s International Conference of Architecture and Technology in Xi’an; and in various capacities at universities and schools of architecture. I frequently give interviews and participate in public debates.
My work is inspired by contemporary realities and cultural histories, the ideas of radical artistic movements like Dada and the Situationists, complexity theory and process philosophy.
Research on urban lifestyles, regional urbanization and multicultural societies, sustainable urban development, urbanization in emerging regions, climate change and cities, urban mobility.
Have lived and worked in Copenhagen, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Durban.