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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Q&A: Kai-Uwe Bergmann

Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG answers five questions ahead of his visit to Aotearoa New Zealand for in:situ 2024.

1. How has architecture changed in the time you’ve been practising?

In many ways, the amount of data and information an architect is asked to curate and integrate into a design has grown exponentially in the past decade or two. I see a growing need to have a holistic approach to design that includes climactic data, mechanical performance data and usage data, in addition to a typical brief. Engineers, sustainability specialists, landscape designers and architects need to work much more integrated than ever before in order to tailor emotive, energy conscious and efficient responses to each site.

2. How do you see it changing in the future?

Architects will need to become much more knowledgeable about where the materials we use to build are sourced from and what is required in terms of embodied energy to turn them into usable products. We need to understand the entire supply chain, in order to make the right choices and balance the energy used to make things with the usage patterns of those built structures and how they can endure from generation to generation.

Aarhus Harbor Bath. Aarhus, Denmark, 2014. Photo: Rasmus Hjortshoj.

3. What’s the biggest misconception about architects?

That architects only work for clients... we work on behalf of all citizens and should use each and every opportunity to contribute to society as a whole.

4. Climate Change - how does this global issue affect the way you design buildings?

COVID-19 offered us a glimpse into how a global challenge can be reacted to quickly, through various cultural lenses, and how we can allocate resources to address the needs of the moment. This global event provides me with hope that we can now channel those same energies to address climate change, as it will require each one of us to do our part to address the issue head on and quite vigorously. Each and every project we undertake provides us a chance to find ways to reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels and find ways to contribute positively to the planet.

CopenHill. Copenhagen, Denmark, 2019. Photo: Søren Aagaard.

5. What’s one building you wish you had designed?

It’s actually not a building at all but the very infrastructure that we use every single day . . . the bridges we use to cross rivers, the tunnels we dig through mountains, the roadways that hug our landscapes . . . these feats of engineering should also make sure to always keep all species in perspective so that we aspire to a social infrastructure that provides the framework to cohabitate on this planet.

Kai-Uwe is an international keynote speaker at in:situ on Wednesday 21 February 2024.

Kai-Uwe Bergmann’s keynote speech is proudly sponsored by APL.

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