UNSTUDIO : An Integrated Approach to Sustainability

Ben van Berkel
Ben van Berkel is the co-founder and director of the architectural practise UNStudio. He studied architecture at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and also at the Architectural Association in London, receiving the AA Diploma with Honours in 1987. In 1988, he and Caroline Bos set up an architectural practice Van Berkel & Bos Architectuur Bureau in Amsterdam. Immediately after founding this Architectuur Bureau, they completed their first project. The buildings that were designed during that period include Karbouw, the Remu electricity station, and Villa Wilbrink. When he was selected to design the Ben van Berkel delivered lectures and taught at many architectural schools around the world. Currently, he is Professor Conceptual Design at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt am Main and for the Spring term 2011 was awarded the Kenzo Tange Visiting Professor's Chair at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Central to his teaching is the inclusive approach of architectural works integrating virtual and material organization and engineering constructions.

Mercedes Benz Museum

Architectural Practice- UNStudio

UNStudio is a Dutch architectural design studio specializing in architecture, urban development and infrastructural projects. The name, UNStudio, stands for United Network Studio referring to the collaborative nature of the practice.

Talking about his architectural firm Van Berkel said, UNStudio understands the changing role of architects. New production methods developed by the building industry, the current transnational condition of architecture, new design techniques and the changed, more functionally complex, nature of the architectural project itself have led us to develop new working strategies. We are interested in helping our clients to develop an insight into a location, its problems and potentials. This insight then serves as a decision making tool for those responsible for the planning of the location in question. The architecture we propose results from our continuous search for the balance between a process-oriented approach with its unknown outcome and an enduring professional vision. We favor an integral approach to architecture. Time, use, circulation, construction and all other material and virtual systems and underlying values are studied, visualized, related to each other, and finally joined into an inclusive organizational structure.

Dutch Architectural design

He added that with our practice, we discovered that the role of architects requires a new type of expertise which can synthesize knowledge gained from analytic studies - incorporating data from various other disciplines - and can generate knowledge specific to a question or a project. Within UNStudio, we work with 'Knowledge Communities,' research groups focusing on key-design questions, including an integrated approach to sustainability, a synergetic research of programme and planning and the reverse engineering of smart design parameters based on construction, material and geometry.

Throughout over 20 years of international project experience, UNStudio has continually expanded its capabilities through prolonged collaboration with an extended network of international consultants, partners, and advisors across the globe. This network, combined with our centrally located offices in Amsterdam and Shanghai, enables us to work efficiently anywhere in the world. With already over seventy projects in Asia, Europe, and North America, the studio continues to expand its global presence with recent commissions in China, South-Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Germany and the USA, among others.

Some of the prestigious projects of the firm include; the New Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart (Germany 2006), the large scale mixed-use project Raffles City in Hangzhou (China 2008 - 2012), the Galleria Department Store in Seoul (2005), the urban and architectural plan for 81 residential towers of I'Park City in Suwon (2007 - 2012 KR), department store Star Place in Kaoshiung (TW 2009), private family house VilLA NM in Upstate New York (USA 2007), the Agora theatre in Lelystad (NL 2007) and the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam (NL 1996).


Some of the prestigious awards won by the firm in the year 2010 include: IALD Award of Merit, Lighting design (Collector's Loft, NY), ULI Award for Excellence: EMEA (Music Theatre, Graz), 5 Star award, Asia Pacific International Property awards (Galleria Cheonan), Award of Merit, AIA New York City (New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion, New York), IIDA Annual Interior Design Award (Music Theatre, Graz). In additon, in 2009 the firm won, Dance Palace, St. Petersburg, RU. Competition design 1st prize, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Frankfurt am Main, DE. Competition design 1st prize, Cityscape, Highly Commended, Commercial/Mixed use – Built (Star Place, Kaohsiung), Red Dot Award, Best of The Best (MYchair, and so on.