4th UNS Conference : Technology

Table One Discussion:

Technology is a filter through which Economy, Politics, Health, and Culture can be realized as Architecture and Design. By creating and defining technological tools and workflows, we can create architecture/design packages for clients that are project specific but originate from a kind of “Mass Individualism” principle.

Traditional Architectural models for the use of technology in practice have been rather “Black Box” Tools, and work process are used in a back of house manner where clients are only exposed to end images and document packages. In order to further our firm’s agenda to become a knowledge practice as opposed to an image based practice, we must change our stance on client relationships and technology from one of “Show and Tell” to one of interactive collaboration. By involving the client in early tool and technological development we can develop more robust design solutions, expand our scope of services, develop stronger client relations, and utilize resources in a more efficient manner. The interactive qualities as well as design possibilities of having a technologically savvy client increase our ability to produce new, innovative architecture through the very process of collaboration and education.

In order to access as much beneficial intelligence as possible, and engender our new technologies with a sort of lasting fitness we must encourage as much cross disciplinary collaboration as possible. Through assimilating and integrating other specialists, we can forecast, and define new innovations rather then follow them. The cross contamination of specialists will strengthen new thought and tool creation.

Staying with the theme of technology as being driven by new tools and techniques, our discussion led to a generic classification system which works outside the boundaries of technical taxonomy’s:

1. Pre-Emptive Tools: Any script, definition, processes, etc that is crafted through data accumulation and intelligence but can be utilized on multiple, and unspecific projects in order to shortcut, or speed up the initial design dialogue between client and architect.

2. Tools Of Need: Any script, definition, block, processes, etc which facilitates daily workflows and is necessary for a projects completion Essentially, Technology with a practical and finite end result.

3. Tools Of Discovery: Any script, definition, block, processes, etc which allows for openness and multiple readings. Technologies created with unknown potentialities.

4. Subversive Tools: Any script, definition, block, processes, etc which is co-opted from an adjacent or divergent discipline and can be exploited for architectural contamination.

Table Two Discussion:

Table two focused mainly on the internal technological processes in the office, how the knowledge was gained and how it persists within the office. In that way we split the discussion into two topics.


Where is Technology present in UNStudio and how can it be categorized?

- Analysis
Almost like a continuation of our diagrammatic way of working, technology is now a key element in the analysis of a project. Site information, environmental analysis, efficiency calculations, fabrication constraints, etc. can be evaluated in the course of a project to help us decide on the most pertinent parameters.

- Aesthetics
In the past years we adapted technological methods in our design process so that now some technologies are used on almost every project, particularly in the design of envelopes.

- Mass Customization & fabrication
Since the Mercedes Benz Museum much has changed in the way that we deliver design data to our partners in the manufacturing process. The knowledge gained in these processes now finds the way back into the design process in mass-customization a variety of project types.

- Cross-disciplinary communication
The way we communicate our designs has changed a lot through technology as our partners are implementing tools that can understand information embedded in our 3d models. During the discussion the categorization above was used to find in which phase of the project technology is used most and which are the key technological drivers of a project. The understanding was that we don’t have “one” single method in the use of technology. Each projects works in different scales; has different aims; and involves different actors. The one thing each project has in common is that technology is always to be found at the intersection between various themes (e.g. taking into account strategic design, ambition and the constraints of a local market). This discussion led to the next question focusing on the carrier or knowledge.


What is the carrier of technological knowledge? Is the technological knowledge at UNStudio an individual one or institutional one?

When looking at the software used at UNStudio in the past 10 years it seems that there has been peaks in the use of a single software package (e.g. Maya, TopSolid, Bentley Architecture, Digital Project, etc). This is mainly due to the people coming to the office with knowledge gained before joining UNStudio. A critical question was raised if this shows the lack of a central, common strategy for Technology at the office. Wouldn’t it be better to build up on knowledge in one technology and not jump from one to another? On the other hand, doesn’t this adoption of new technologies help us to innovate? Isn’t it the knowledge gained through working in other tools that helped us develop our trained judgment in the use of technology?

Posted by: UNStudio / Marc Hoppermann + Seyavash Zohoori