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©Philippe Magnon

Tumbleweed, 2000

  • Architects

The cross disciplinary agency OCEAN UK is situated at the interface of three areas of design: architectural design, “interface” design, between the real and the virtual, and object design. OCEAN UK questions the individuation of the design product in order to propose an alternative to modern standardization. The new Computer-Assisted Design and Production (CADP) technologies make it possible to produce objects which now respond and adapt, on the one hand, to their environment and, on the other, to the user. From now on, iteration replaces mere “repetition”: non-standard objects and arrangements can emerge from a logic of industrial production and from the assemblage of highly standardized components. In this context, OCEAN UK’s research focuses on the production of increasingly differentiated forms: each object and architecture is seen less as a form than as a family of forms: a range of potential variations defined by a common digital code, just like the genetic code of living beings. With each new unit, the code is acquainted with adjustments permitting the object to evolve and adapt to the specific nature of the situation.

Tom Verebes (1965) studied architecture at McGill University (Canada), at the LoPSiA (France) and at the Architectural Association (London) where he taught from 1997 to 2009. In London, in 1994, with Michaël Hensel he founded OCEAN, a think tank encompassing teaching, practice and architectural research which, in the following year, became a multi-disciplinary and international network with six hubs (London, Helsinki, Oslo, Ljubljana, Cologne and Boston). In 1998, a split led to a re-organization of the collective in two distinct groups: Verebes took over the English branch (OCEAN UK) with Felix Robbins (1977) and remained in close collaboration with the American branch (OCEAN US). Michaël Hensel created OCEAN NORTH, based on a merger between the units in Oslo, Cologne and Helsinki. In 2009, Verebes put an end to OCEAN UK’s activities and created OCEAN CN (Consulting Network) in Hong Kong, where, today, he is associate professor at the University of Hong Kong.