ETEM: What made you decide to become an architect/engineer?
K.O.: My architect father did not encourage me to study architecture, instead he suggested that biology would have future. Maybe that drove me towards becoming an architect who is very interested in rule based design and natural physics. Recently a major contribution was made by a Dutch natural physicist named Erik Verlinde who claimed to have found a new theoretical basis for the universe. His theory was based on straightforward information exchange, no particles, no atoms, no quarks, but complex dynamic aggregations of information only. I was simply excited since that resonated so much with what I am deeply interested when developing my designs.
ETEM: Which was your most challenging project and why?
K.O.: The most challenging was the foundation of the Hyperbody research group in 2000. I introduced a completely new view on real-time dynamic systems in architecture. I proposed the Trans-Ports project which was a flexible programmable structure that changed shape and content in real time. I still need to find an opportunity to realise that concept on the grand scale. My mission is not complete before I have achieved that goal. After the iWeb and the A2 Cockpit which meant nothing less than a revolution in how to design to produce a building, Trans-Ports 3.0 will mean a true revolution in real-time programmable architecture.
ETEM: Which are now the trends in façades?
K.O.: I cannot see façades as a separate thing from the structure and its behaviour and performance. Structure and skin must be developed as one coherent system. Whether this is a trend I do not know, but it certainly needs to become a trend. Otherwise all our efforts will end in window dressing, in fashion, in holding up appearances.
ETEM: How would you define your signature style?
K.O.: My signature style is best defined as a simultaneous force from within and from without. It is based on a deep empathy with the constituting components and their mutual relationships, which is a bottom-up process. At the same time the dynamic swarm systems of components are subject to external forces which are the drivers of their billions of possible configurations. We call these drivers the Powerlines.
ETEM: Regarding the state of the planet in the face of climate changes many people are very pessimistic about the future. How do you see the urban building of the future?
K.O.: Understanding and control of the internal and external constituting forces will lead to an affordable, green, sustainable appreciation of the natural beauty. There is nothing more natural than diversity, multimodality, hybridity, and nothing more natural than complex adaptive systems that are part of an ecosystem of other complex adaptive systems, both on the small scale as on the grand scale of the planet. The urban building of the future must acknowledge such complexity and understand the mutual relationships between all players, both people and things, that constitute a city.
ETEM: The engineering progress and the discovery of new materials in the past decade are enormous. However, are there specific forms or shapes which are still impossible to build in the conditions of modern technologies?
K.O.: We do not build shapes, I am strongly opposed to the idea that a design starts with a complex shape. For me, the complexity is based on simple rules. My work is based on rule-based design, algorithms, lean data exchange, and above all it is open-ended and aiming at possible surprising outcomes. That is why our fusion of art and architecture on a digital platform makes sense. I am strongly opposed to architects who present their fantasies but do not yet know how to make them happen. I call that the “position of the spoiled child architect”; that attitude is especially harmful for my own practice, sincenoutsiders think they see parallels between them and us, while in fact we are almost at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
ETEM: What is your advice for young architects?
K.O.: Make sure you develop a fundamental skill, think like an entrepreneur, not as a consultant. Think and act as a maker. What to expect from you in near future? Probably I will design and build the straightest building in the world, yet at the same time fully parametric and dynamic in its behaviour, like a multimodal transformer.