CLAD people

Ben van Berkel

Founder, UN Studio


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and wellbeing of people in buildings worldwide.”

UNSense will explore and develop new integrated tech solutions specifically designed for cities, buildings and indoor environments. It will be run as an independent sister company, headquartered in Amsterdam FreedomLab Campus.

Explaining the concept, Van Berkel said: “We are living in the age of the iPhone, yet the architecture and construction industries are still in the Walkman phase. With UNSense, I want to fully integrate innovative technologies into the built environment and improve the way people live, work and get from A to B. It is not the hardware or the software itself that interests me, but how it can be applied within architecture and urban design to improve our daily lives.”

He argued that traditional architectural practices do not have the resources or skill sets necessary to develop new technologies, with little room for prototyping and testing such applications, hence the decision to establish the studio as a standalone initiative.

Data analysts, algorithmists, neuroscientists, policymakers, students, city planners, sociologists and economists will join architects in developing products for the firm.

Early prototypes include Solar Bricks – PV Modules that can be used as a cladding material for the facade or the entire envelope of buildings, providing solar power on a much larger scale than if only used as rooftop coverage.

In the future, UNSense aims to develop and implement digital systems and technologies that enhance the city’s livability, such as digitally enhanced facades and indoor environments “that fully understand a user’s preferences, needs, emotions and even intentions.” Trials for such solutions are currently taking place in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.

“I look at technology within the built environment from the viewpoint of an architect, and that always starts with people,” said Van Berkel. “Instead of focusing only on performance or energy use optimisation, with sensorial adaptive environments, I see a great opportunity to create buildings and cities that are sensible and sensitive to human beings.

“I am of the firm belief that in the future all architecture practices will become arch tech firms, but for now we have to pave the way to make this expansion of our knowledge and expertise possible.”

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
Mori’s design for the airy visitor centre of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York
Born in Kobe, Japan and later growing up in New York, Mori has become a trailblazer for women in architecture around the world
"Every decision you make, you should think seven generations ahead"

From a compressed earth cultural centre in Senegal to the sleek Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Mori’s work shares a clarity of purpose

Water Street will feature a 45-ft wide landscaped promenade, with trees to offer shade and improve air quality
"Now we’re talking about pedestrians as the most important members of the street community"

The new US neighbourhood designed to improve the health of its residents

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
The Albert restaurant interiors playfully explore the world of the artist and scientist
"Millennials are pushing us architects to design hotels with distinct personalities"

Sameness is out, authenticity is in when it comes to designing for millennials says Greg Keffer

Snohetta’s underwater restaurant
"Should a thousand year wave occur, you’ll be completely safe"

A sneak preview of one of the world’s largest underwater restaurants

features
Kim Herforth Nielsen founded 3XN in 1986 with Lars Frank Nielsen and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen
"I always wanted to do more than just designing buildings"

How Danish firm 3XN is harnessing the power of architecture to shape human behaviour

After the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, the Rockaway Boardwalk was rebuilt and designed to be a space that brings the community together
Claire Weisz
"I prefer to be labelled a feminist architect than a female architect. I’d love to work with more women"

The WXY co-founder and urbanist with a passion for improving our public spaces

featured supplier
Featured Supplier: EXF supports Third Space to create London’s largest functional training space at The Yard
Bespoke fitness manufacturer EXF has extended its relationship with Third Space, by supplying the luxury fitness group with London’s largest functional training rig at its Canary Wharf club.
cladkit product news
EAS PREVIEW: Bright Buildings to exhibit BrightOpen designs
Bright Buildings will be showcasing its range of BrightOpen buildings
At this year’s Euro Attractions Show (EAS), design and architecture firm Bright Buildings will be exhibiting its range of BrightOpen ...
John Pawson reimagines oil lantern for Wästberg
The Holocene No. 4 reflects Pawson's pared-back style and neutral palette
Lauren Heath-Jones
Swedish lighting company Wästberg has expanded its Holocene collection, with a new addition, Holocene No. 4, designed by acclaimed architect ...
Artemide excites with latest lighting collection
Designer Alejandro Aravena created O to 'reconcile the needs of the natural and the urban environment'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Herzog and de Meuron, Neri & Hu, MAD Architects and Elemental, the firm of Pritzker winner ...
cladkit product news
Bartok Design installs 'transformative' soaking tubs in SpaFusion at Pallazzo Varignana
Bartok Design creates traditional Japanese soaking tubs
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bartok Design, a Japan-based supplier of Ofuro (Japanese bathtubs), has completed a major installation at the newly opened SpaFusion at ...
Tredje Natur launches Climate Tile to bring green spaces to urban settings
Tredje Natur has installed the pilot system of its Climate Tile system in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish company Tredje Natur (Third Nature) has recently installed the pilot system of its innovative street paving system in the ...
Zaha Hadid Design partners with Royal Thai to create carpet collection celebrating Zaha Hadid's legacy
The carpets capture Hadid's notable use of layering and interweaving as well as her use of light and shadow
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with carpet manufacturer Royal Thai to create a new carpet collection inspired by the work ...
cladkit product news
Designworks launches new glow-in-the-dark tile collection
The tiles contain light-absorbing luminous pigments so they glow-in-the-dark
Lauren Heath-Jones
High-end tile supplier Designworks has created a range of illuminous mosaic tiles for commercial use. Designed to bring light into ...
Dornbracht launches 'next generation' experience shower
Rainmoon is an innovative sensory shower experience designed for use in the home
Dornbracht is taking experience showers to the next level with its multi-sensory Rainmoon concept. “Rainmoon is a culmination of bliss ...
Aotta launches sound panels made from hemp husks
The panels are designed to maintain 'healthy spaces' and consist of Hemp husks fashioned into a natural porous membrane that absorbs sound
Lauren Heath-Jones
Russian design studio Aotta has developed a range of eco-friendly, sound-absorbing panels made from the waste products of hemp seeds. ...