Take off: a book celebrates the architecture of Julien De Smedt

Gangnam Bogeumjari District Officetel in Seoul, a large concrete building with shops on the ground floor with apartment balconies over several upper floors
A new book, entitled 'Built Unbuilt', explores the first 16 years of architect Julien de Smedt's work, beautifully illustrated with photographs by Julien Lanoo. Pictured here, the architect's Gangnam Bogeumjari District Officetel in Seoul.
(Image credit: Julien Lanoo)

At just over ten years in existence, JDS Architects, and its founder, Julien De Smedt, have already made their mark on the world architecture map with large-scale public projects such as the Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo (one of the most visited sports venues in the world), as well as striking residential offerings such as the eye-catching Iceberg in Aarhus. This is no mean feat for a practice that in architecture years is still considered relatively young. Now, a new book launched by the practice together with Belgian photographer Julien Lanoo, celebrates De Smedt’s creative career up until now.

Tracing the architect’s work over some 16 years, from the inception of the architectural practice PLOT, which De Smedt co-founded with Bjarke Ingels, before they both went on to set up their own, independent practices in 2006, to today and the studio’s hugely varied and international work.

Entitled Built Unbuilt, the book is beautifully illustrated with pictures by Belgian photographer Julien Lanoo, and brings together a slew of completed work, such as the Maison Stephane Hessel in Lille, the Gateway in Hangzhou, the Kalvebod Waves in Copenhagen and the Seabath in Faaborg. Public space, community and nature are all key themes in De Smedt’s work, although his projects touch all scales, from the extra large, to the fairly small, such as single-family houses.

The book also takes a look into the practice’s unbuilt work, including designs that may not have been realised yet – but might still do. ‘At a time when ideology and idealism is being challenged more than ever,’ says De Smedt, ‘the realm of ideas and concepts as a possible path to progress is worthy of exploration, revisiting and even recovering those beams of optimism which, even if they fell by the wayside, lit up the road along the way.’

Maison Stéphane Hessel in Lille, France - a large concrete building with multi-coloured panels hanging on 1 wall

Maison Stéphane Hessel in Lille, France by JDS Architects.

(Image credit: Julien Lanoo)

Hangzhou Gateway in China - a large glass fronted building by JDS architects

Hangzhou Gateway is a commercial project in China by JDS Architects.

(Image credit: Julien Lanoo)

Large triangular shaped apartment buildings with glass balconies

The Iceberg housing project in Aarhus, Denmark by JDS Architects

(Image credit: Julien Lanoo)

Kalvebod Waves, in Copenhagen, a wooden multi-level walkway over the water

Kalvebod Waves, in Copenhagen, was collectively designed by KLAR and JDS Architect.

(Image credit: Julien Lanoo)

The Holmekollen Ski Jump in Oslo

The Holmekollen Ski Jump in Oslo, by JDS Architects, is one of the world's most visited sports facilities. 

(Image credit: Julien Lanoo)


Built Unbuilt, €34, published by Frame Publishers. For more information visit the JDS Architects website

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).