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UNStudio’s Caroline Bos on the relevance of technology for architecture

UNStudio is a global practice with a strong foothold in Asia. Caroline Bos, founding partner of the studio, was recently in Melbourne to present a proposal for Southbank by Beulah and opened up about changing technology and the changing gender gap in architecture and design.



BY

August 9th, 2018


Sweeping curves and repetitious, complex-looking structures are a common sight on an UNStudio project. These are the result of a continual exploration of digital fabrication techniques and is something the practice has become renowned for.

“For us, [digital technology] has been really at the core of our practice,” shares Caroline Bos, co-founder of Dutch practice UNStudio.

Arnhem Station, by UNStudio. Photo by Hufton Crow.

Arnhem Station, by UNStudio. Photo by Hufton Crow.

“Right at the beginning we were using digital techniques to make things possible that would otherwise never have been possible. And even now it is still like that,” she continues.

Sitting at the forefront of the impending digital revolution that hit the architecture industry in the nineties, UNStudio has continued to invest in and develop the practice’s in-house talent.

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“Right at the beginning we were using digital techniques to make things possible that would otherwise never have been possible.” – Caroline Bos
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A point that Caroline is quick to point out, “We have people who are very good at working with technology. They are able to break down this complex information into repeating patterns, making it possible to achieve the quality that we want in our work.”

Arnhem Station by UNStudio. Photo by Hufton Crow.

Arnhem Station by UNStudio. Photo by Hufton Crow.

Naturally in the 30 years since UNStudio’s founding, one of the guaranteed changes has been to the very “volatile” tech that brought them notoriety in the first place. Elaborating on this constant evolution, Caroline says, “Technology is maybe the blessing and the curse of our time.”

Raffles City, Hangzhou. Photo by Seth Powers.

Raffles City, Hangzhou. Photo by Seth Powers.

Beyond the endless updates, technology sits closer to the soul of UNStudio. “The relevance of architecture is situated in the essence of what is so specific about our time. So this is also why we follow technology. We follow it and we try to understand it at different levels, not just for our own efficiencies, or just for design, but because of how it impacts architecture and society at large,” says Caroline.

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“Technology is maybe the blessing and the curse of our time.”
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When asked about gender equity, which is another societal shift making waves in the architectural field, Caroline frankly states, “[Gender equality] is a real issue.”

UNStudio has many ticks in its favour in this regard – most simply by having a high profile female co-founder and by being founded in a notably progressive country such as the Netherlands. “Naturally, we have a lot of women in the practice, also in the higher positions. We also have women who are mothers. We fully support gender equity. I think it’s very important,” says Caroline.

UNStudio's Board of Directors, April 2018.

UNStudio’s Board of Directors, April 2018.

But Caroline recognises that, “There are always things we need to work on. Even though we are very aware and making a huge effort, it’s not yet enough.”

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“We fully support gender equity. I think it’s very important.”
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An unlikely coupling ­– technology and gender equality – but both are in a state of flux and are a clear reflection of society. UNStudio is doing more than building towers, it is using its studio and its architecture to express the cultural impetus of our time.

Images courtesy UNStudio.

Peruse the UNStudio archives on Indesignlive.com.

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