Last week ArchDaily attended the 2016 World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Berlin. Following his opening keynote address, we talked to Ben van Berkel of UN Studio who spoke of his interest in using technology in architecture to improve not only user experience, but to affect qualitative aspects of design itself. Together with his partner Caroline Bos, Van Berkel recently published Knowledge Matters, a book positioned "to help architects to run a better studio and to share knowledge."
Ben Van Berkel: What motivates me at the moment in architecture is to design with knowledge and information. So it's not any more that I design building forms alone; I'm more interested in how, with new technology, we can develop a sustainable and hopefully healthy environment.
Think about it: when it comes to the environment we are for 80% of our time indoors. And think about the bad air. We are often indoors and the way how we with new technology can improve that is my fascination. And of course I'm interested in the technological side and improvement and expansion of that, but I'm also interested in the cultural side. So the expansion of the profession needs to dare stretch up much more than we ever did before. Because all of these technologies are available right now. On the cultural side we can refer to design, fashion, literature, art and all those aspects of the cultural side so that we can further use it in the integral way of how we can improve our architecture.
The way that I'm inspired by these latest ideas of improving the profession is by teaching a lot, reading a lot – I go easily from neuroscience towards the way in which today the technology of a car has improved by maybe having 40 sensors. Meanwhile, why do we have only one sensor in a building? To regulate our temperature. That technology is not available yet in architecture. So I often read a lot and reflect a lot on the way how we can improve.