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Kas Oosterhuis

 


Architect

ONL [Oosterhuis-Lénárd] 

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

 

Interview by Vibeke Gieskes

240-CapitalCentre-sustainability - Architect Kas Oosterhuis © Lénárd Oosterhuis
Architect Kas Oosterhuis
Luminous discussed the use of the latest technologies with Professor Kas Oosterhuis. He and his “Hyperbody” research group are working on the development of “non-standard architecture”.

Why does computer technology play such a major role in your work?

We are living in a society in which technological developments are following each other in quick succession. It is actually quite logical for information and communication technologies to be used in architecture. All I am doing is actively applying the latest technology in this field to the design process.

But you use this technology to a greater extent than many of your peers.

Yes we do, and that is partly because we want to integrate technology and architecture, but also because we are constantly on the look-out for links between the visual arts and architecture. Back in 1994, Ilona Lénárd and I organized the “Sculpture City” event, the aim of which was to bring about a fusion of the visual arts and architecture on a digital platform.

The relationship between the visual arts and architecture is most evident in our method of working. Whereas most architects still work from scale models, and in that sense are working to some extent in an abstract way, because we use the computer in the design process we are able at a much earlier stage to make models of buildings that approach the scale of reality.That's something a visual artist can do too − they create their own reality at full size.

In the virtual world you create your own vision of the world, an environment about which you know all there is to know because you are the one who created it. Just like a visual artist, the architect is in control of everything: from initial assignment to management, finances, the production process and the final version. Because we have this control over the design and construction process we are able to tailor each building more precisely than ever before to suit the site and the client's and user's requirements.

And that probably requires a different form of production than is usual?

In our projects, design and production are inextricably linked, right from the very start. Thanks to our “file to factory” production, we are able to deliver tailor-made industrial solutions; the great advantage is that each component in a building can be different. We actually deliver to the producer the script for the building using the techniques of complex geometry. The data for the building are sent in a table to the production department, which then produces the various components of the building.

What very few people realize is that this is not necessarily any more expensive than production in series. The strange thing here is that the techniques used in this form of production have already been in existence for a long time: steel and glass manufacturers already had the machines – and they are only starting to use them now. Our work is not really futuristic or avant-garde at all. We are just using facilities that have already been available for a long time!
240-CapitalCentre-sustainability - Architect Kas Oosterhuis © Lénárd Oosterhuis

Nevertheless, your work involves a high level of experimentation and research.

In my “Hyperbody” research group at Delft University of Technology we are researching industrial customized solutions.Technology that originated in the gaming industry is being used to develop new design tools, which are then used in the design.

One of our projects is the “interactive wall”. A direct application of this is to be found in the dynamic sound barrier we developed for use along a railroad track. Here sound is taken to be a set of signals to which the wall reacts. When a train approaches, the sensors in the wall detect the sound and cause the wall to rise.

This means that the landscape no longer has to be permanently hidden by a 'fence' and the moving wall creates an efficient barrier to the sound of the passing trains. In the future these kinds of customized solutions will no doubt give rise to worthwhile solutions and applications for complex problems.

Light plays an important role in your buildings as a visual phenomenon. How do you do this?

My virtual buildings are in effect organized clouds of dots, in which each individual dot can be activated separately. In the design for the 2007 Al Nasser Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, each window frame can be controlled and the façade is made up of LED pixels that can be controlled individually.

This makes light ideal for using spaces in an interactive way: in the Zoutwaterpaviljoen (1997) [Salt Water Pavilion] we used sensors so that the movements of end-users triggered changes in the light in the various spaces. Now we are developing a similar system for a new “Cockpit” – a sound barrier with industrial space – along the freeway near Haarrijn.
Interview published in Luminous Magazine 6/2011

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