APTUM LLC is a design and architecture firm based in the United States (Aptum Design) and Switzerland (Aptum Architecture), which was founded in 2003 by Roger Hubeli and Julie Larsen.
The office is centered on the philosophy that an architecture practice must obtain the qualities most aptly described by the Latin term ‘APTUM’ which in classical rhetoric and fine art, is described as the ‘ideal relationship between how and what form is expressed’. Rather than just a formal principle, we see this term as a challenge to design architecture that is driven by each project’s foundation, context, and culture. The firm’s design approach is in search of inventive and ‘fitting’ solutions that turn client constraints into intriguing design trajectories. Whether we work at the scale of an interior surface or a landscape - external contingencies are leveraged to foreground a 'middle ground' or what we call - the built object.
Integral to this approach is an in-depth understanding of the methods and processes of the surrounding ecologies (environmental, economical, social etc.) to a place and its effects on the architecture that resides within it. Consequently, our work finds it’s tectonic through an intensive experimentation and engagement with a structural and material context - the negotiation between Structure and Form. In a contemporary discourse that often foregrounds surface efficiency through the overlay of performance optimization and geometry, our work considers the opposite and investigates the potential for a contradictory approach of form, structure and space. The result is a search of the serendipitous nature of colliding structure and surface. Unlike the structural systems of Buckminster Fuller, we are not interested in material efficiency but rather gluttonous and excessive uses of structure and skin to inform a new, third system. Perhaps this is an urge, reinforced by the juxtaposition of our ETH and GSAPP backgrounds, to engage in a discussion that foregrounds both structure and form. Similar to the baroque, there is a contrast in our work between inside and outside where the contradiction of structure and surface (or skin) begins to blur; structure becomes skin when it merges with enclosure and skin becomes structural when it becomes thick and inhabitable. It is a type of calibration between the formal potential and how it can be overlaid with material and tectonic sensitivity.
While continuing to immerse ourselves in the contemporary discourse and practice, we call upon our innovative partners including landscape architects, artists, choreographers, writers, environmentalists, engineers and builders to contribute and shape each project. We engage our collaborators as experts in their own field and immerse ourselves in how we can infect and cross-pollinate into each other's methodologies to influence the discipline of architecture.