[Herald Design Forum 2018] Heatherwick highlights design’s role in bringing people together

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Sep 14, 2018 - 16:20
Updated : Sep 14, 2018 - 16:20

Buildings should bring people together instead of dividing them, says British designer Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio. 

“Our team, consisting of some 200 people, tries to think from the human dimension, fighting against the buildings which do not seem to care about the place and the people around them,” Heatherwick said during Herald Design Forum 2018 in Seoul on Friday. 

British designer Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio, speaks at Herald Design Forum 2018 in Seoul on Friday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)


British designer Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994. He not only leads the design of all Heatherwick Studio projects, but works closely with a team of 200 highly skilled architects, designers and manufacturers to defy the conventional classification of design disciplines. 

One example of a place designed to bring people together is a project involving a building at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said Heatherwick. 

“(With the digital revolution,) a student now does not need to go to the university and still get a Ph.D. So why do you need to go at all? I wanted to make a place where people come to meet people and interact, since you are less likely to meet people in existing universities,” he said. 

He focused on making classrooms with no corners and making use of nooks and crannies with “no defined function and deliberately ambiguous designs.”

Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (Heatherwick Studio)


The building, currently used as a learning center by the university, comprises 12 sections with different stories. Considering Singapore’s humid, tropical weather, Heatherwick said the different levels allow better air flow and ventilation, so the space encourages people to stay and linger.

“It has a social job separate from its original purpose,” he added. 

To facilitate this aim, he works closely with city planners of urban design who provide him with clarity and help the team redesign the project.

Heatherwick Studio is currently working in four continents on projects valued at over 2 billion pounds ($2.56 billion). Following the Gold Award success of the UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, Heatherwick Studio has gone on to win several design briefs, including the Google campus in Silicon Valley, Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross, London, and an overhaul of the London Olympia.

Heatherwick is a commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Royal Academician, and in 2004 became the youngest Royal Designer for Industry.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)

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