WAF 2019 Festival Conference Theme: FLOW - People, Data, Nature, Power
Most buildings are static, but the uses for which they are designed, or to which they respond, are anything but. Obvious examples are transport buildings: the train station or airport, dealing with millions of passengers every year while incorporating tract and runways for moving trans and planes. Slightly less obvious but just as significant are workplace buildings which accommodate endless flows of data as well as office-workers themselves.
At a broader level, cities (especially 'smart cities') are organised to manage flows of everything from street traffic to water and sewerage, and to ensure the safety of citizens who live work and play in a variety of difference buildings and environments.
National policies are designed to manage flows of energy, people and trade - and to find some balance between the desirability of protecting nature, and the manipulating of it to avoid the worst effects of unwanted flow, for example flooding or coastal erosion.
Underlying the management of all this is another sort of flow: the flow of political power and responsibility. As with any other sort of flow, this condition affects architecture and architects, and will generate a stimulating series of talks and discussions at WAF 2019, covering both the changing nature of various sorts of flow and how buildings and environments are being created to respond to them.
We are delighted to announce the first two speakers who will be presenting on the WAF Main Stage
Ben Van Berkel, Founder UNSense
Session: Spaces of Flow
Ben van Berkel studied architecture at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and at the Architectural Association in London, receiving the AA Diploma with Honours in 1987.
In 1988 he and Caroline Bos set up an architectural practice in Amsterdam, extending their theoretical and writing projects to the practice of architecture. UNStudio presents itself as a network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure. Current projects include the design for Doha's Integrated Metro Network in Qatar, ‘Four’ a large-scale mixed-use project in Frankfurt and the Wasl Tower in Dubai.
With UNStudio he realised amongst others the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Arnhem central Station in the Netherlands, the Raffles City mixed-use development in Hangzhou, the Canaletto Tower in London, a private villa up-state New York and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
Andrew Whalley, Deputy Chairman, Grimshaw
The ‘flow’ of Architecture in the Anthropocene is one of increasing acceleration. An exponential level of development is destroying the range of key planetary characteristics of Earth that enable it to support Homo sapiens and a whole range of other species.
The United Nations has categorically stated that the only way forward is a rapid deployment of energy-efficient and low-carbon building designs. Along with the inclusion of intelligent operational systems, construction will need to be optimized and natural resources reconsidered.
In 1961, President Kennedy committed the US to, within a decade, send a man to the moon and bring him back safely to earth. It was an unprecedented technical goal bordering on insurmountable. In 2019, over the next decade we need to set ourselves an even more ambitious target for the built environment. We need to increase the number of high-performance, low carbon buildings by six-fold from the current trend. To reach that milestone, near zero energy, zero emission buildings must become the construction standard globally by 2030. Only then will we be able to appropriately limit rising global temperatures. A performative design approach that searches for optimized solutions is the critical and only way forward. This must be our generation’s ‘moonshot’ moment.
Our full conference programme and speakers will be announced in the coming weeks - watch this space.
We asked some of the WAF 2019 judges what the theme FLOW means to them:
"Flow in people, data and energy underpins a buildings purpose. Understanding flow and the dynamic qualities of what architecture delivers at the micro and macro levels places what we do as central to people’s lives; from the growth of cities, to the impact on environment and to the individual space that we inhabit."
Bruce Wolfe, Conrad Gargett Architecture
"Architecture channels flows and therefore should not be a destination but rather, a tool to point in the desired direction."
Issa Diabaté, Koffi & Diabaté Architectes
"This is an interesting topic, as flow has various meanings depending on the way we look at it. Architecture is all based on the experience that users gain from the building. Understanding the flow of experience one gets can actually affect the social behaviour and from this point, Architecture plays the main role."
Bassel Omara, Dorsch Gruppe
"I understand ‘flow’ as meaning a natural design process, not forced by dogma but intuitively guided and driven by constraints which are viewed as opportunities."
David Leech, David Leech Architects
"In order to understand and create architecture we must comprehend the complex processes lying in its core. The designing process itself is a ‘Flow’ in need of a smart control."
Bratislav Toskovic, Parviainen Architects
"A building is animated by its flows. When we design we must understand the type of flows that are expected and anticipate new flows in a probably uncertain future."
Fernando Sordo Madaleno, Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos
"All buildings, public or private, home, office, transportation, religious or cultural, mandate “Flow”. How we respond to buildings and places is the success of how we act and interact, or Flow, within or around true architecture."
Joyce Owens, Studio AJO
"There are many, natural and man-made disasters and ‘flow’ should help to address these more effectively by engaging architects."
Carin Smuts, CS Studio Architects
"We live in time of constant changes, where boundaries are blurring and there is a need to create new hybrids of buildings that respond to the constant flow on physical, virtual, and social levels."
Martin Lesjak, INNOCAD Architecture
"I think the theme aligns well with what the late sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman calls liquid modernity. As opposed to modernity, he describes liquid modernity as “..the growing conviction that change is the only permanence, and uncertainty the only certainty. A hundred years ago 'to be modern' meant to chase 'the final state of perfection' - now it means an infinity of improvement, with no 'final state' in sight and none desired."
Alexander Eriksson Furunes, Eriksson Furunes Architecture
"'Flow' is a sense is about change, and 21st century architecture is about creating places and spaces that are adaptable to change in all scales. Some buildings might look good when they were just completed but failed to live up to the demand of Flow, perhaps we should give sufficient time to examine the real impact of a building on its community?"
Tszwai So, Spheron Architects
"I think architecture is a tool to make a better “flow”. And to understand the flow which exists in architecture, helps us to design greater architecture."
Yui Tezuka, Tezuka Architects
"Flow can also be seen not only to “create” architecture but more as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says: We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well."
Annabel Karim Kassar, AKK Architects
"How can we design buildings and cities that are capable of ‘flowing through time’ or being flexible and adaptable? A really smart city is less about managing flows – even the 20th century city managed this. The smart city is a place of that is both resilient enough to change with uncertainties and at the same be a theatre for intense human interaction."
Peter Bishop, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London