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: Dornbracht GmbH
Dornbracht is turning the bathroom into a LifeSpa: Dornbracht’s LifeSpa vision has taken the idea of health-oriented bathroom design to a new level.
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
Montreal’s Esplanade Tranquille will feature 36 geothermal wells
"Funding woes and murky timelines are common problems. It can be easier to make a difference one small project at a time"

From parks designed to mitigate the effects of flooding to warming huts for one of the world’s coldest cities, these projects have been designed for increasingly extreme climates

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
CopenHill is a “crystal clear example of hedonistic sustainability,” says BIG founder Bjarke Ingels
"It was born from the sheer anxiety of having to submit something brilliant in a very short timescale"

How a moment of desperation led to BIG’s CopenHill, the clean power plant that’s doubling as a skiing and leisure destination. Magali Robathan speaks to the architects that made it happen

SHL’s Monroe Blocks mixed development in Detroit, US
"Most clients are very focused on how buildings are used and experienced as the primary design driver"

The MD of Schmidt Hammer Lassen and the CEO of PerkinsWill tell us why their merger will help create smarter buildings driven by human behaviour

features
"The technology involved in paint is extraordinary"

Used cleverly, colour has the power to influence how people use the spaces they inhabit, says the creative director of Dulux

Alcide Leali Jnr
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

cladkit product news
1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium celebrates Southampton FC's history
Rainbow Design worked closely with KSS Architects to ensure the furniture matched the design vision
Lauren Heath-Jones
KSS Architects has partnered with Rainbow Design, a London-based furniture supplier, to create the 1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium, ...
XTU concept imagines life in the clouds
XTU's X Cloud concept is part of the Future and the Arts: AI, Robotic, Cities, Life - How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow exhibition at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo
Lauren Heath-Jones
XTU Architects, a Paris-based architecture firm, has released images and renderings of X Cloud, a new concept that showcase a ...
BIG partners with Louis Poulsen for new lighting collection
The Keglen collection is made up of four different pendants
Lauren Heath-Jones
BIG Ideas, the technology arm of renowned architecture firm Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), has partnered with Danish lighting manufacturer Louis ...
cladkit product news
Daniel Svahn creates furniture collection using repurposed table tops
The Goodies But Oldies collection features three pieces made from repurposed MDF table tops
Lauren Heath-Jones
Daniel Svahn, a Stockholm-based furniture designer, has created a new range of sustainable furnishings, made from recycled MDF tabletops. Svahn, ...
Naval architect launches solar-powered floating pods
The Anthénea pod is a luxury floating suite that could be used as a spa or treatment suite
Lauren Heath-Jones
Naval architect Jean-Michel Ducancelle has designed a solar-powered floating hotel suite aimed at offering an eco-friendly and nomadic place for ...
Metalline transforms London hotel with bespoke aluminium fins
The aluminium fins will form the façade of the upcoming Minories Hotel in Aldgate, London
Lauren Heath-Jones
Metalline, an architectural metalwork specialist based in the UK, has created a range of bespoke 3D twisted metal fins for ...
cladkit product news
Tom Dixon collaborates with Prolicht to launch CODE lighting range
The product has three LED light sources: Dot, Dash and Grid
Megan Whitby
British designer, Tom Dixon, and Austrian architectural lighting specialists, Prolicht, have collaborated to unveil a new lighting range. Called CODE, ...
Barr + Wray to launch space saving hammam concept
Light shines through a striking central chandelier to create a feeling of movement
Katie Barnes
Smaller footprint. Maximum theatre. Those are the two main features of a new hammam concept being developed by wet spa ...
Canteen collection combines nostalgia with modern aesthetics
The Canteen collection was inspired by post-war British design techniques
Lauren Heath-Jones
Very Good & Proper (VG&P), a British furniture brand, has curated a new dining collection that combines traditional woodworking techniques ...