UNStudio. Image © Inga Powilleit

By Martin Søberg

UNStudio at work is a guaranty for significant architecture as a merger of audacious forms and conceptual precision. The office is a weighty contributor to the global success of Dutch architecture since the late 1980s. With an emphasis on architecture as a discipline requiring thoughtfulness, UNStudio is led by research and material innovation to remarkable results whether their engaged in the design of buildings, furniture, exhibitions, infrastructure, or urban plans.

Established by architect Ben van Berkel (b. 1957) and art historian/architect Caroline Bos (b. 1959) in 1988 as Van Berkel & Bos Architects, the office was reorganized and renamed in 1998 as UNStudio, an abbreviation of United Network Studio.

UNStudio's architecture strives for congenial intersections between spatial configuration and functional programs: Sometimes through sharp contrasting and twisted geometry; at other times by mediation and subtle morphing. Their buildings feature modulations between dynamic movement and solid tranquility. Such interchange is emphasized by phenomenal ambiguity created by contrasting the spatially clearly defined, the boxy and massive, with form-dissolving qualities such as light and color. These intersections often result from research into building materials. An example of this is the use of a special responsive multicolored foil for their La Defense Offices in Almere.

UNStudio has indeed fulfilled the promises of computer aided and parametric design. It has allowed the office to propose topologically folded buildings in which spaces infiltrate, in helix shapes or Möbius strips. This also results in the creation of new architectural typologies: Their Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart redefines the concept of the exhibition building since simultaneously providing the options of controlled and self-organized touring.

UNStudio's designs reflect a strong belief that architecture should indorse human interaction on multifarious levels. Configuring the flows of movement through their buildings or urban schemes is based on movement research and way-finding studies, which support intuitive user orientation and communication. Hybridity is a keyword in UNStudio's design philosophy, as expressed by van Berkel and Bos by pointing to the conceptual figure of the manimal - the merger of man and animal, the logical and the sensuous.

Visit UNStudio's website here.

November 30, 2015 /

Transfer Terminal - Arnhem Central Station
Arnhem, The Netherlands

The future of train travel is revealed as Arnhem Central Station opens after 20-years of development. The Transfer Terminal is the central piece of the Masterplan linking different programs and levels within the station area.

Kutaisi Airport
February 27, 2012 /

Kutaisi Airport
Kutaisi, Georgia

Georgia is located on a crossroads of rich cultures, with a history of travellers passing through the Caucasus or arriving from the Black Sea. As a result there is increasing demand from airlines to fly to Georgia.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio in Cheonan, South Korea. Interior
Photo: Christian Richters
April 18, 2011 /

Galleria Centercity

Situated some 80 km south of Seoul, Cheonan is well connected to the capital by railway and road, with a new high speed rail link having recently been completed.

Tower by UNStudio in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Exterior facade
Photo: Christian Richters
December 06, 2010 /

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The recently completed 21 story UNStudio Tower forms part of the Mahler 4 urban complex, a cluster of six buildings located in the heart of the South Axis in Amsterdam, connecting Schiphol Airport to the major business areas of Amsterdam South.

MUMUTH by UNStudio in Graz, Austria. Exterior entrance
Photo: Christian Richters
February 23, 2009 /

Graz, Austria

"We saw the spiral as the organizing element of the MUMUTH in much the same way as Serialism works in contemporary music."

Five Franklin Place by UNStudio in New York, New York, USA. Five Franklin Place exterior facade
Photo: © Archpartners 2008
May 05, 2008 /

Five Franklin Place
New York, New York, USA

Located in the Tribeca Historic Cast Iron District in Downtown Manhattan, Five Franklin Place will be the first major American building by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio.

Agora Theater exterior landscape
January 21, 2008 /

Agora Theater
Lelystad, The Netherlands

The Agora Theatre is part of the masterplan for Lelystad by Adriaan Geuze, which aims to revitalize the pragmatic, sober town centre.

Tea House on bunker by UNStudio in Vreeland, The Netherlands. Exterior 
Photo: Christian Richters
February 19, 2007 /

Tea House on bunker
Vreeland, The Netherlands

The stainless steel addition appears to have grown out of the still visible concrete facades of the bunker.

Mercedes Benz Museum by UNStudio in Stuttgart, Germany. Exterior
Photo: Christian Richters
June 12, 2006 /

Mercedes Benz Museum
Stuttgart, Germany

The new Mercedes-Benz Museum, located next to highway B14 at the entrance of Stuttgart, contains exhibition space for the historical collection of Mercedes-Benz, which consists of 160 cars, as well as a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and a sky lobby.

Te Papa Museum by UNStudio in Wellington, New Zealand. Rendering
Image courtesy UNStudio
January 30, 2006 /

Te Papa Museum
Wellington, New Zealand

The new extension to the national museum, "Te Papa", meaning "Our Place" in Maori, is part of a major revival of the waterfront of Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.

Living Tomorrow Pavilion by UNStudio in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Exterior
Photo: arcspace
May 24, 2004 /

Living Tomorrow Pavilion
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The layout of the Living Tomorrow Pavilion functions as a basis for the different innovative technologies exhibited.

Wadsworth Atheneum of Art by UNStudio in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Interior.
Image Courtesy Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
September 23, 2002 /

Wadsworth Atheneum of Art
Hartford, Connecticut, USA

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art recently unveiled the schematic design for a major expansion and renovation led by architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio, Amsterdam with Sylvia Smith, of Fox & Fowle Architects, as executive architect.

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