"It doesn't have to be more difficult than that"

Interview with Mats Molén, architect at FOJAB arkitekter, currently working on the Klagshamn riding school and an expert in equestrian facilities.

Mats, you have devoted most of your professional life to agricultural buildings and horse facilities in particular. How did you become interested in this field?

I started my career at the University of Agriculture, as a construction engineer at the Agricultural Building Technology. We worked on experimental facilities for agriculture and the development of self-building techniques. In the countryside, you often have to rely on what you can do yourself and we helped people to help themselves.

But the interest probably started earlier than that. My parents had greenhouses in the countryside with farms around them. There was no distinction between work and play - home and work were in the same place, and I grew up playing and building in the greenhouses.

Encouraged by colleagues, I went on to become an architect. This led deeper into research and development and I became a lecturer in Agricultural Buildings at Alnarp. After a few years, I moved to Stockholm to work in a 'regular' architectural office. But among all the housing and office projects, racetracks and equine clinics appeared, and I realized that the approach was really the same: Good architecture has a clarity. You see and understand what it is - how it works.

Klagshamn's riding hall contains many interesting and clear positions. But it is not just about pragmatism, there is a conscious aesthetic in the architecture. You have designed housing in Västra hamnen in Malmö and several other horse facilities - all characterized by the same approach.

Yes, this is true. But you need to learn to see the site - the landscape, light, views, sightlines and building materials that are close by and easily accessible. If you then apply a simple building technique, the result can be a beautiful and inexpensive building.

I perceive an anxiety in "designing facades". Buildings should stand the test of time and you can take inspiration from nature, which is in balance with its inherent fluctuations. When architecture becomes a response to the laws of nature, it becomes balanced and self-evident.

When you received the Falu Rödfärgspriset for the biofuel plant at Trolleholms Gods a few years ago, the jury wrote "With graphic clarity and striking lightness, a rusting steel mesh between rhythmically placed steel columns captures both the black sludge-painted incinerator process building and the openly exposed raw material under its protective shell, forming an architectural whole of what would otherwise have been a box with a chimney next to a pile of wood chips. It doesn't have to be more difficult than that."

Sometimes it does not take much more than a graphically clear order to achieve beauty in what would otherwise be trivial. Scale also comes into play here, leading to completely different expressions. The horse's scale, for example, which differs from that of humans. Or, as in this case, a simple house for a huge pile of wood chips.