UNStudio (Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos)


Beginning in the 1980s, the solidity of Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos’ theoretical thinking and the remarkably advanced engineering of their creations propelled them to front and center stage of the architectural scene. Working together in the Netherlands they built small- and large-scale projects that were instantly acclaimed by the international press (Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam, 1995-98; Karbouw Office Building, Amersfoort, 1989-93; Het Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen, 1995-99; Möbius House, ‘t Gooi, 1993-97; NMR Research Laboratory, Utrecht, 1997-2000). Constantly evolving, the firm began focusing on digital tools, changed its name to UNStudio and began defining their projects using software and parameters ranging from engineering and urbanism to infrastructure and the economy and integrating a social and political dimension, the concept of sustainable development, the weather and traffic in addition to purely technical aspects. UNStudio calls it Inclusive Architecture, a concept they describe in depth in their manifesto book Move (1999). To make their concept of integrating diverse types and sources of data operative, UNStudio members often rely on mathematical models that make it possible for them to develop singular ways of thinking (Theater of Graz, 1998-2008; Villa NM, 2000-07; Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, 2002-06). Their focus on the fluidity of  circulations, on spatial and visual connections and on the articulation of spaces and how they are separated as well as the moiré effect on façades all tend to create multiple points of view and gradations of space which constantly renew visitors’ perceptions of a building as they move about within and without.

After meeting at the Architectural Association in London in 1981, Ben van Berkel (1956), architect, and Caroline Bos (1959), art historian, founded the architecture office of Van Berkel & Bos in 1988 in Amsterdam. In 1998 the firm was renamed UNStudio (United Net Studio). Their deeply cross-disciplinary approach gathering experts from a highly diverse range of fields has been awarded numerous prizes and the projects produced by this internationally renowned firm range from a tea service (Alessi Tea and Coffee Piazza, 2000) to exhibition design, and include programs for towers, train stations, theaters, museums and shopping centers.

Nadine Labedade

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