Ben van Berkel at RCA Talking Interiors
The talk at RCA was about both the work of UNStudio and also it’s evolution from a Network practise to a Knowledge practise. Today the company works in a Co-creative mode through different knowledge platforms, so much of the collaboration happens globally online.
The evolution of the company has meant an increased participation levels from just sharing information to full control of knowledge by using a large number of specialists from different areas. Berkel reminds about the advantages of Vienna Cafe culture society and importance of critical dialogue between different disciplines. This is a new way of using open innovation by outsourcing and linking the knowledge from experts of different fields in a hybrid collaboration.
Berkel discussed also his concept of the ‘Larger Detail’ in communicating insights of the architectural works to public. His aim is that the public has moments of reflection when going through and experiencing the spaces by noticing the Larger Details in the work. He hopes people see something that makes them re-think. This can be achieved in creating Dual Readings by intelligent use of materials e.g. based on the history of the place.
The main subject of the talk was the idea of Managing the Void. Berkel calls this the absence of architecture. By managing the void he aims to create a diversity of many readings for environments. He says that the void guides the infrastructure of the building. This can be seen e.g. in the Merzedes Benz museum structure. The same applies into a larger context: Void in a city. In Singapore he used the landscape structure to inform the organic structure of the building.
Berkel touches a very important aspect during his talk when working for big brand clients like Merzedes Benz. He points out that the design should not only be about the brand, instead it should always include a larger, cultural context to become more inclusive and draw the public in. The Merzedes Benz museum was initially only meant to be a showroom, but Berkel was able to make the client see the cars as cultural objects as well, which totally changed the perspective of the building.