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"Our aim first is to solve a problem" says Thomas Heatherwick at reSITE 2019

Czech Republic Architecture News - Sep 19, 2019 - 12:27   13516 views

"Our aim first is to solve a problem then try to come to end with a meaningful intervention," said Thomas Heatherwick, founder and design director of Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick has delivered a special keynote at this year’s reSITE, an annual global forum discussing the most urgent issues in the urbanized world. 

In a 30-min keynote, Heatherwick explained how he is designing his projects by combining art and architecture to give them artistic attitude that pushes the boundaries of the briefs requested by his clients. 

reSITE’s theme for 2019 is REGENERATE, exploring the essential questions on environmentally policies to create resilient infrastructure, while the conference also discusses how smart technologies will solve and coordinate the urban challenges faced by Prague with open discussion on the topic of digitization in urban settings. 

Heatherwick Studio-designed Vessel at Hudson Yards opened to the public. Image © Michael Moran for Related Companies.

The conference is taking place from 19-20 September 2019 in Prague's Forum Karlin, Czech Republic with diverse professionals and creative people who are solving problems in the world’s cities – real estate developers and investors, politicians, entrepreneurs, alternative energy leaders, smart city professionals, architects, urbanists, planners, designers, municipal leaders and more.

The acclaimed British designer, who is behind the project Vessel at Hudson Yards, discussed his current projects and his design process. 

Heatherwick's Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town. Image © Iwan Baan.

Heatherwick said "it is very difficult to foresee how your buildings will create an emotional response in the end." For example, our project Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, it was quite important because it is the first major cultural building that the local people have ever been".

Heatherwick also added that it was a challenge to design something that excites people. But exciting people with a limited budget as well, he continued. Throughout his keynote, Heatherwick discussed how his "inventive approach" is layered and shaped through the whole design process and how he generally decides to keep the original buildings as much as possible in the context. 

Heatherwick Studio designs a new public realm made of a planted wavy pergola in central Tokyo. Image © Heatherwick Studio | Darcstudio

"We try to create spaces that bring people together,” he added. “How can you create something where the human dimension is the focus?."

According to Heatherwick, the human-centered approach is the key principle of his projects. He said they obey the rules of the project briefs but sometime they turn down the project brief to create a much more meaningful result on the project. 

Regarding the theme of the conference, the designer emphasized that “the bigness” is the most problematic issue of our cities. “And we sometime forget our scale in the streets,” he explained.

Sidewalk Labs has released design for a mass timber city designed by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio to bring a new approach to urban development on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. Courtyard view from the proposal of Heatherwick Studio. Image © Picture Plane

Heatherwick Studio is known for its "innovative" structures that adopt "nonconformity" in urbanism and architecture. Heatherwick Studio’s plans commonly include large amounts of planting and sculptural formality. Thomas established Heatherwick studio in 1994 to bring the practices of design, architecture, urban planning and art together in a single workspace. 

Heatherwick Studio’s recent projects include Google's Charleston East campus with BIG, a new public realm in Tokyo, a new residential tower with rounded bulb shaped balconies in Singapore. 

World Architecture Community is media partner for this year's event and is bringing you the hottest topics, live-discussions and keynote sessions from the two-day event with exclusive interviews. 

Top image: Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio. Image © Elena Heatherwick

All images © WAC unless otherwise stated.