Uniting The Human-Scale With The City-Scale
Indian Architect & Builder|IAB October 2019
London-based architect Usman Haque is famed for his interactive architectural systems, and for his exploration of newer, more effective ways of creating human engagement and interaction through his designs. Indian Architect & Builder caught up with him, to quiz him on a variety of topics such as his journey as an architect, his inspirations and philosophies, architects using the digital revolution to their advantage, and more!

Can you take us through your journey as an architect? How and why did you decide to become an architect?

I actually applied for a physics program at university, and got accepted, but I switched at the last moment because my father said that knowing me, he didn’t think I would like eventually to be stuck in a lab working for some big organization (apologies to physicists – I know that doesn’t capture it all!) and would probably prefer to work for myself in something constructive. I knew very little about architecture and wasn’t particularly interested in buildings themselves but I was interested in systems and politics, while also being heavily into painting futuristic scenes – so I chose architecture mostly because others nudged me in that direction. Once I got to architecture school (I studied at the Bartlett in London) I discovered that architecture was so much more than just the physical fabric of buildings, and yet I noticed that architecture magazines almost always showed photos of physical structures without people in them, so I was determined to develop a type of architecture that made no sense unless there were people in the equation.

↑ Open Burble, Singapore, by Usman Haque: Burble is a large-scale inflatable form that is configured, built and controlled by the public. The form changes in responseto the crowd interactions below it. Its scale is able to visually compete in an urban context with the skyscrapers surrounding it.

↑ Mini Burble Paris is an inflatable structure that hangs above a crowd changing colour in response to audience members’ tweets and interactions on tablets.Indian Architect & Builder - October 2019

↑ Another Life, by Umbrellium is one of Europe’s largest permanent interactive public artworks. Bradford City center is brought to life through a public space ‘operatingsystem’ that connects together sensors, actuators, LED lights, lasers, fountains, mist machines, weather stations and other networked urban hardware.

↑ Natural Fuse creates a city-wide network of electronically-assisted plant-pots that act both as energy providers and as circuit breakers to prevent carbon footprint overload, helping communities manage their collective energy usage and carbon footprint. (Umbrellium.co.uk)

↑ Marling, Eindhoven, by Usman Haque, enables the voices of thousands of citizens to create forms through spectacular effects that hang in the air above the crowd,forming a delicate, intricate ceiling of animated colour.

↑ Marling enables users to create 3-dimensional effects in outdoor public space using their voices. The result is an intricate suspended ceiling with animated colours above the crowds, helping create a shared public memory of collaboration that lasts long after the event transpires.

Tell us more about your early projects and initial challenges.

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