The future of architecture: an interview with Ulrich Knaack

What will architecture look like in the future? Ulrich Knaack, Professor Design of Construction at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), Professor Façade Technology at TU Darmstadt (Germany), and ambassador of the sector Architecture at Material Xperience paints a picture of his vision of the future of architecture for us in this interview! Click here for a free entry ticket for Material Xperience!

How will we build in 100 years, if it were up to you?
That is an interesting question. There are actually two options here. Option one is that we continue as we build now. We have building systems and parts to make buildings. There will also be development in building materials, like stronger plastic. Or, alternatively, the construction sector will become fully automated and industrialised. We have been individualising systems for the past 20, 30 years, which hasn’t worked out perfectly. Automation has developed the past years. We are currently on a pivot point in which it can go either way, and it is an exciting moment.

What do you think is the best invention ever and why?
The best invention ever is the wheel; it is certainly the most important one. Within architecture, the best invention is architecture an sich. It is very special to create spaces for people and adapt them so that we can use them.

What are the most important material innovations within your sector and why?
What I see as material innovation is not one material, but rather the connection of materials. For instance, welding together steel to create slimmer solutions. A connection is in fact a weak spot, but new developments make sure that they are becoming stronger.

With which other sector is your sector related most or is the most cross-pollination when it comes to material innovation?
Architecture shows many similarities with interior design. Both subjects concern space and the use of space. The main difference is that interior architecture has less risk when it comes to risk of collapsing or flooding.

Aside from interior, fashion is also an interesting subject, because clothing is only temporary. Architecture could learn something from that, to build buildings for shorter periods of times, rather then tens of years.

Materia aims to connect various parties. Which other person or party do you think people should get to know and why?
The architect has to look at the fashion sector. The packaging industry is also interesting. The material developments within architecture are slow because safety comes first. Within the packaging industry, there are fewer risks, so that gives the opportunity to use innovative materials and test them.

Ulrich Knaack at Material Xperience
Ulrich is the ambassador of the sector Architecture at Material Xperience. Together with Materia, he has put together an exhibition with some of the most interesting projects within the architecture sector. Want a sneak peek of what to expect? Click here.

Wednesday 14 March, Ulrich will hold a lecture in which he talks about the technological and functional developments in the generating of energy with façades! For the full lecture programme, click here.

About Ulrich Knaack
Professor Ulrich Knaack was trained as an architect at the RWTH Aachen (Germany). After earning his degree, he worked at the university as researcher in the field of structural use of glass and completed his studies with a PhD.

In his professional career, Knaack worked as architect and general planner in Düsseldorf (Germany). He also worked as professor for Design and Construction at the Hochschule OWL (Germany) and currently works as professor for Design of Construction at the Delft University of Technology at the Faculty of Architecture (Netherlands), where he developed the Façade Research Group. In parallel, he is professor for Façade Technology at the TU Darmstadt at the Faculty of Civil engineering (Germany) where he participates in the Institute of Structural Mechanics + Design.