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: Barr + Wray Ltd
Founded in 1959, Barr + Wray is recognised as a world-leading provider of spa design, engineering, and pool and spa equipment.
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
features
Detroit’s Centennial Park will include a cove with a beach for swimming
Van Valkenburgh studied landscape architecture and fine arts at Cornell University and the University of Illinois
"Building a park is the ultimate act of democracy"

The US landscape architect on why the Obamas are his kind of clients

The Bill R Foster and Family Recreation Center at Missouri State University, US
David Polzin is executive director of design at CannonDesign. He studied at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture
"We were able to create an ‘acoustic shadow’ cutting decibel levels nearly in half"

How to design the perfect community leisure centre 100 13th century pilgrimage The Vietnamese village being created using historic methods

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The design of the Wellness Center was inspired by a local brick factory
"Our palette was pared down to basics"

The Vietnamese village being created using historic methods

Profile: Peter Cook: Peter Cook
Peter Cook
"Somehow we’d caught the imagination of people"

As a book about radical architecture collective Archigram is released, we speak to one of the founders about the need for fun

Deep Ocean Technology’s Water Discus underwater hotel
"The Norwegian coast inhabits such beauty"

The world’s most ambitious underwater buildings

features
Ole Barslund Nielsen founded Monstrum in 2003 with Christian Jensen. The two met when working in theatre scenography
"Failing and falling can be a good thing"

How his background in theatre set design inspired Ole Barslund Nielsen to create playgrounds with a difference

The facility features green terraces and plant-covered villas
"It’s about tracing the evolution of thermal practices"

Eco architect Vincent Callebaut has won a competition to redesign ancient thermal baths in the Savoyard town of Aix-les-Bains, France

UNStudio are designing a cultural centre as part of BIG’s EuropaCity development
"I like art that is against the mainstream, slightly off, with a twist"

UNStudio’s co-founder on the unexpected challenges of designing Australia’s tallest skyscraper

cladkit product news
Mater partners with Ditzel family to create eco-friendly furniture using reclaimed plastic
The furniture uses plastic from recycled fishing nets
Lauren Heath-Jones
Mater, an ethical design brand based in Denmark, has launched a furniture collection made from plastic reclaimed from the ocean. ...
David Rockwell partners with Jim Thompson for dream-inspired fabric collection
Rockwell has designed 12 multi-use fabrics inspired by dreams with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson
Lauren Heath-Jones
Renowned architect David Rockwell has created a collection of fabrics with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson. Called Dreams, the collection was ...
Volvo partners with Reef Lab Designs to encourage ocean biodiversity
The tiles are made from marine-grade concrete and recycled plastic fibres
Lauren Heath-Jones
Car manufacturer Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create an environmentally-friendly ...
cladkit product news
Baux creates plant-based acoustic panels
Baux has worked with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology to create Baux Acoustic Pulp, a plant-derived acoustic solution
Lauren Heath-Jones
Baux, an acoustic products brand based in Sweden, has developed a line of biodegradable acoustic panels, using a plant-based material ...
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 ...
Water inspires Zaha Hadid Design x Rosenthal collaboration
The collection consists of three smaller collections: Weave, Strip and Lapp. Weave was inspired by 'the fluid lines of Zaha Hadid's sketching hand'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal to create a new collection of vases. Called the Lapp collection, ...
cladkit product news
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 ...
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 ...
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. ...
x
Email this to a friend or colleague
I am happy for Leisure Media to contact me occasionally by email and understand that I can opt out at any time.
CLAD people: Ben van Berkel
Ben van Verkel on the launch of his tech startup