Ben Van Berkel

Co-founder and Director of UNStudio

About the speaker

Mr Ben van Berkel is the Co-founder and Director of UNStudio and some of his notable projects are the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam and the Galleria in both Seoul and Cheonan.  He is also behind the design of SUTD’s East Coast Campus. Ben has also taught and lectured at many architectural schools around the world. Currently, he is Professor Conceptual Design at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt am Main and for the Spring term 2011 was awarded the Kenzo Tange Visiting Professor's Chair at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

About the lecture: The New Understanding of Architecture

Today, the discipline of architecture is wide open to the possibility of radical change. The narratives of gain and growth that explained, legitimised and propelled forward so much architecture in the past decades have been interrupted. The focus now is on articulating new conceptualisations of possibly all the vital considerations at the core of the field. Yet this is nothing new in itself; architecture thrives on newness. Without continuous material, cultural and ideological innovations, the profession loses its specificity and becomes simply a bland part of a generic building industry.

With UNStudio we have long realised this, which is why we have pushed ourselves in many different directions, continuously addressing new challenges and questions. But at the same time this experimental attitude has also led us to consciously seek to build as much as we could. Disengagement from the dangers of the building industry within the globalised economy has never been our preferred option. Perhaps now, even more than at the height of the boom, this engagement is necessary to identify the topics that we need to understand in new ways. These topics are: knowledge, cultural versus economic values, speed and the future. How do we begin to understand these anew? How can we find a new balance between timeless values endogenous and exogenous to architecture?

Among Ben Van Berkel's notable projects are: Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Galleria in Cheonan, Star Place in Kaohsiung, Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Galleria in Seoul and the SUTD campus.