An architect today, designs for tomorrow (read six months down the line or a year or two at the most).
He is stuck with making the deadline and meeting the client’s demand, only to realise that the building he has designed is now a thing of the past.
Enter Live Architecture and step into the future 10 years ahead.
Nuru Karim, one of the principal architects of Live Architecture likes to address the firm as an experimental office; the studio loves to experiment with new theories and explore the possibilities of technology, material and design. When you quiz him about the meticulous research that they embark on for each of their projects (big or small is immaterial), he says that asking the right questions is more important for them than the answers that invariably follow.
The future workspace is a fine example of their quest for ‘probefection’ (probe + perfection). The project explores ambient, augmented – ‘intelligent skin’ interfaces that are sensory and use the human body as an instrument for navigating through work environments.
Read through the interview to know more and don’t miss the pluralisation in the interaction (we create, our studio, etc…).
You dabble in many fields like urban design, installations, product design and architecture… how do you manage to maintain ingenuity in each stream?
We are primarily a design and research based architectural / urban studio that thrives on immersing itself into “real-world” constraints; striving towards the realization of unchartered territories, honest and truthful to the design process, budgetary constraints and socio-economic forces that govern the world of design and the built environment.
The dichotomy of “experimental” and “real-world constraints” is hypnotic and acts as a fuel for systems innovation. But really more than focusing on the answers it’s more important to ask the right questions! That’s what we fundamentally aspire to do for a living, keep asking the right questions irrespective of the nature of the programmatic typology or scale.
The ability to move seamlessly between scales and sizes ranging from a few square inches to acres and acres of land mass, could be highly intoxicating.
Science and technology are an integral part of your work… your comments?
Through our work we engage in design as an open system of interrelated issues ranging from technology, typology, digital methodologies, sustainability, structure, fabrication, materiality, tactility, and use, as well as larger networks of the social, cultural, and environmental.
We have been exploring the “digital” both in design and production largely as a systems based approach. The ability of the “digital” to augment “design history” (in parametric computational design) as an editable entity enables the transformation of “design histories” into “design futures”. Transfer of technologies and “smart intelligent materials” are significant to our learning process as well.
A great amount of research and thought goes into your design concepts. Does it go through major modifications when they actually get realized (built)?
Setting up a “culture” for research within an organisation is extremely crucial. It’s really not a one off activity, but should be imbibed as an integral component and lifestyle of a studio space. The process involving research, design, development need not be a sequential process, but could be read as a continuous loop based system feeding into each other. The ability of this system based approach to adapt itself and respond to a larger shifting context (read as “major modifications”) could be very interesting.
Competitions are a good platform to tap into new talent. How has participating in competitions helped your practice?
Competitions are extremely interesting mechanisms. The very purpose is worth analysing and critiquing. Competitions provide incredible platforms that in a way, fill the vacuum for uninspiring built environment initiatives on a number of scales. In a way they help design studios reflect on a number of issues.
Theoretical positions are often drawn up and tested in real world environments and contexts.
Competitions are great stress busters; we participate in competitions purely as a recreational activity without dealing with the stress of having to win accolades or a project commission. Sometimes we deliberately play to lose, all for the sake of experimenting with ideas and testing innovation. Having said this I am quite surprised that we have won so many competitions.
You have worked a lot with Corian. Why the fascination with the material?
We aim to define materials and detail, not by explaining ‘what it is?’, but by rather explaining ‘what it does?’ I am more interested in “material performance” rather than “material appearance”. These are some of the attributes of materials that have caught our fancy and we have consistently tested / worked with.
Architecture has evolved through ages.According to you, 50 years down the line, will architecture enter the Star Wars universe or will it come a full circle and go back to its roots?
Perhaps, a balance of both these worlds. Nature is a huge source of inspiration.Janine Benyus, in her book Biomimicry (1997) argues for using nature as mentor, model, and measure, “because animals, plants and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found out what works, what fits in and what lasts here on Earth. After 3.8 billion years of R&D, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival”.
So to answer your question it will/should be a balance of both. Thinkers such as Henri Bergson, who in the early decades of the 20th century argued for a concept of life as forms of ‘creative change’ able to encompass both natural and technological species.
Which technology/gadget do you think holds the potential to change the future?
Each age was marked with the evolution of technology and materials; Stone Age, Bronze Age, the Iron Age etc. A century of experimentation was necessary and the progress in the use of technology was slow. Never before the 20th century has the evolution of technological usage been so accelerated.
While the Industrial Revolution produced tools to augment the Body [steam engine, automobile . . . ] the information revolution is producing tools to extend the “Intellect”.
The Digital Revolution combined with digital production (argued as also the third age of the Industrial revolution) has much delight to offer in the future.
What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
Love playing cricket. . . Watching meaningful cinema. . . Reading . . . Learning softwares . . . Music . . . Visiting museums / galleries.