Founded by Ben Van Berkel and Caroline Bos in 1988 The UNStudio is an international firm. The studio specialises in architecture, interior architecture, product design, urban development and infrastructural projects. Started with the head office in Amsterdam, the firm has grown with International offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Frankfurt. The firm has extended its satellite offices in Dubai and Melbourne. The firm operates with over 250 employees from different countries. 

Core Values 

UNStudio’s mission is to design for lasting impact and contribute to the societal challenges of urbanisation, climate change, ageing populations and socioeconomic inequality. Driven by purpose and focused on solutions, we create value by designing for the implications of these megatrends on our built environment. Designs that make our lives healthier, have little impact on the planet, but a lasting impact on our cities – and people”, says the architect. 

UNStudio believes in “future-proofing the future” and that is achieved through knowledge. For the last decade, the firm has been focusing on expanding the understanding of trends and practices in architecture and technology. They have dedicated platforms UNSx and UNS futures to research new forms of culture, methodologies, materials and technology that are shaping the world. The result contributes to the mission of the firm. 

The firm designs and works with the vision of the future which is changing faster than ever before. The predictions made fall useless by the sudden advancement in technology or global phenomena. So they are keen on developing strategies that not only anticipate the future but possible changes to that future. 

UNStudio is also committed to the promotion and practice of sustainable design, with environmental issues like social and ecological sustainability being considered right from the start of a project. And we are dedicated to making every project both financially and socially feasible, a combination that we call ‘attainable design’, says the Architect.

The design is segregated based on units: architecture, urban, interior, futures and senses. Teams and individuals work on preferred units interacting with other units to derive knowledge to implement in their design. In the last decade, the firm has worked on moving from networking practice to knowledge networking practice hence working on units helps them stay organised, designing and collaborating with clients.

UNS Architecture

The firm believes “designing a building is much more than working out the best way to fill a given amount of space”. Architecture is not only affected by cultural changes, but also by the rapid changes in technology. The design promotes development and use of innovative materials and develops construction methods to reduce the impact on the environment. Spaces that make people healthier and happier, efficient and effective are created. Design solutions which have an impact on adaptive, resilient and future proof buildings are developed.

  • Southbank by Beulah

Located in Melbourne, Australia The design is a new destination to the Southbank area. It consists of Residential, retail precinct, Hotel, Entertainment, Public green space, BMW experience centre, Discovery space, Office, Children’s space. A green spine of vertically integrated Platforms, terraces and verandas is the big detail of the project. This vertical infrastructure formed by indoor and outdoor Frames embeds nature, public space and culture. As Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia the design will enhance the profile of the city, displayed for the world to see.

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Norm Li. View of The Green Spine [3D model]. (Document number 1, UNStudio_ Southbank by Beulah)
UNSx

By exploring how people live, work, move and interact, either by nature, culture or geography, we explore how to create environments, products and services that enhance and support the human experience.” Ben Van Berkel

UNSx is UNStudio’s to research and experiment with new methodologies, technologies, processes and materials for architecture, product and urban design for shared human experience.  

  • Doraff

Doraff is a furniture piece designed for children. A mixed form of a dog and a giraffe makes it versatile. It allows the child to imagine and play in many ways, use it as a table, a chair, or a stool. Designed by UNStudio for Alessi in Italy as a hybrid chair is also a 100% recyclable thermoplastic resin.

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Powilleit, I. Sitting on a Doraff [photograph]. (Document number 2, UNStudio_ Doraff)
UNS Futures 

“UNSFutures is a new type of agency within UNStudio, built on the conviction that relevance defines our interactions with places, brands and each other”, says the architect about the platform. He also believes that an idea for any design to take root must stem from a deep understanding of culture. This platform helps them forecast the future to understand how architecture, technology and communication inter-relate and design for it. The knowledge from the understanding is used in the projects from concept through implementation. 

  • Brainport Smart District 

The vision is to design a flexible grid that develops around the needs of its inhabitants. It is a responsive design that goes hand-in-hand With design and construction Guided by its users. “Over the next 10 years, 1,500 new homes and 12 hectares of business premises will be built around the needs of people who live and work in the area”, says the architect. The aim is to achieve a sustainable, circular and socially cohesive neighbourhood

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Visualisation of Brainport Smart District [3D model]. (Document number 2, UNStudio_ Brainport Smart District)
UNS Interior 

UNStudio’s interior unit enhances the value of space by combining technology and structure by fusing architecture, interior and art. The overall process which would result in a holistic approach rather than just a decorative. 

“As interiors are on a much more human scale than buildings, we can implement our experience and expertise on a more intimate level”, says the architect. The interior spaces add value, comfort, well-being and pleasure.

  • UNStudio Tower Lobby Refurbishment 

The UNStudio head office located in Amsterdam needed an uplift meant promoting interaction and communication with a futuristic approach and was renewed in 2016–2018. The original tower was constructed in 2009, which had two entrance lobbies. Flexibility related to future changes was the design key. The new design of the lobby is a flexible space offering a welcoming entrance and suitable space for informal meetings and larger events. Fluid ground planes Become multifunctional elements, creating smooth transitions between levels, transforming into seating areas. The chandelier Guides people from outside into the lobby and towards the lift lobbies. The wooden flooring, textured walls adds to the warmth of the interior space.

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Bloem, E. Informal lobby seating [Photograph]. (Document number 2, UNStudio_ UNStudio Tower Lobby Remodelling)
UNS Urban 

UNSUrban focuses on visioning, research and data analysis to frame goals and priorities for each aspect of the built environment”. With research into the city’s economic, formal, social and political makeup the project is undertaken. An infrastructure for the architectural design of a Dynamic and flexible Space that leads to a healthy and safe city is designed. From small City objects like Benches, street lights, bus stops to regional development and master plans are undertaken locally and globally. 

  • Doha Metro Network

UNStudio worked on the concept design and ‘The Architecture manual’ in collaboration with the Qatar Rail’s Architecture department. The design manual with material specifications and details were given for the construction to achieve quality and identity of the metro network. The metro started operating in 2019 which serves as a backbone of the public transport system. 

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Hufton. Exterior view of a metro station  [Photograph]. (Document number 14, UNStudio_ Doha Metro Network)
The network bridges the past and future of Qatar’s architecture. The key concept is the varying scales of identity. The exterior refers to the monolithic strength of old Qatari architecture, whereas the interior spaces create movement and fluidity. It helps guide pedestrians towards the transit spaces. 

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Hufton. Interior view of a metro station  [Photograph]. (Document number 23, UNStudio_ Doha Metro Network)
Reference

UNStudio (2019). About [online] Available at: https://www.unstudio.com/ [Accessed 8 August 2021].

Author

In a predominately visual profession, Suvetha Arun who is a self-practicing architect and an architectural lifestyle blogger, desires to enlighten architecture through her writings. Keeping the traditional essence of architecture in her research and practice has made her stand out. She strongly believes in practicing what she preaches.

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