IMG_0623The Faculty of Fine Arts at Cyprus International University held a seminar featuring world-renowned Dutch architect Caroline Bos. Entitled ‘UNStudio Architecture of Experiment & Experience’, the event was part of the Faculty’s Spring Time Design Festival.

In her talk, Bos offered words of guidance to CIU’s aspiring architects, advising them that “the aim of architecture should be inspire people, to stimulate people to think about themselves, the world and their place in it, as well as to give an overall positive experience.”

The UNStudio, which stands for United Network Studio, was co-founded by Caroline Bos and her husband Ben van Berkel in 1988. Based in Amsterdam, they also have offices in Shanghai and most recently in Hong Kong. In addition to being a co-founder of UNStudio and its Principal Urban Planner, Caroline Bos is an Honorary Professor at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

Bos told students that UNStudio was engaged in all aspects of architecture, including urban design and interior. Her talk, she added, aimed to offer students “a broad impression of what we are doing as well as hopefully an insight into why we’re doing it.”

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UNStudio’s Mobius House in Amsterdam

Bos stated, “we like to work on all the scale levels and that’s what we have always done even when sometimes the trend was to be more specialized in one field or another. We always resisted being focused on just one area.” She also emphasized the importance for them to breach all the different scale levels instead of being good at just one thing. In doing so, they are able to learn and gain experience from all projects, for instance the Mobius House in Amsterdam, which was one of their first projects. Often the knowledge that is gained in one work field of architecture is carried or transferred to another work field.

Bos continued by giving a brief history of how UNStudio began and how it came to be what it is today, stating that “it was through luck and determination and not one without the other”. She cited the recent opening of their Hong Kong office as not only “another journey and learning experience” but “a way to in disciplinary and intercultural”. When working on a projects in new and foreign places, Bos continued, as an architect the questions that always come up are “can one work in a different culture, can you respect local customs and do you have enough knowledge of the culture to be able to work”.

They have found that the solution is to work with the local people. She added that “through dealing with transnationalism, a cultural heritage that has become a global heritage and the questions we consciously ask ourselves we have becomes specialists.”

On the future of architecture, she suggested that “there are two paths: one being virtual where you contact UNStudio through your mobile and are able to view what we are working on, as far as client confidentiality goes and then there is the physical reality of architecture. The two constantly interlock.” In order to better illustrate her answer she related it to a recent project they worked on in Shanghai.

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She continued the seminar by discussing some of their key projects and the problems that they encountered along the way including the Mercedes Benz Museum that is located in Stuttgart. Bos described the building to be an ideal example of “experience and experiment coming to the fore” as the bid of who would design the building was decided by a competition, in which the exhibition designer had set out a story in the competition brief of how he wanted the story to be told.

Reporter: Amanda Komboni