We are pleased to present an exclusive interview with Dr. Shajay Bhooshan, a renowned figure in the field of computational design at Zaha Hadid Architects. Conducted at the 2016 AAG Symposium in Zurich, this comprehensive discussion delves into the realm of innovation in architecture. The conversation illuminates the impact of technology on design and production, and explores the social role of architectural spaces.
Shajay Bhooshan, a Senior Associate at Zaha Hadid Architects, specializes in the conception and production of architecture, integrating his expertise in computation, programming, mathematics, and industrial robotics. He co-founded CODE, ZHA's computational design research group, and currently heads its research activities. A prominent figure in academia, Bhooshan completed his Bachelor of Architecture at the Indrapastra Open University in India, his Master's at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, and an MPhil from the University of Bath. He received his PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Bhooshan also serves as a studio master at the AA DRL Master’s program and has taught and presented work at prestigious events and institutions worldwide. His research explore manufacturing and structurally informed design technologies, contributions which have been recognized through publications in scientific journals and conferences.
Ficture Architecture: Hello Shajay, it's a pleasure to have you here.
Shajay Bhooshan: Great to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
Ficture Architecture: As an expert in computational design, you've produced an extensive body of impressive work. Could you clarify how you interpret the concept of innovation in your respective field and how you apply it in your work?
Shajay Bhooshan: In the realm of creativity, innovation differs from how it's perceived in a technical field. I believe architecture finds its place between natural science and social science, giving innovation two distinct aspects.
One aspect is the technological innovation in design and construction, involving digital design methods and robotic fabrication. The other significant aspect is innovation in the conception of ideas and space, an element that's often overlooked, as is quite noticeable at this conference. The focus here is on the technological tools for creating geometry.
At Zaha Hadid, we're equally invested in the other facets of design conception, such as the social logic of space. Bill Hillyer initiated this systematic study, where we're equally interested in both aspects. For us, innovation is the synergy between these two aspects, one from the natural sciences, including physics, building physics, and building chemistry. The other aspect is from the social sciences, focusing on how people perceive space, how spaces can promote interaction among people, and how buildings can enhance productivity. So innovation, in this sense, merges two separate aspects that need to be united. It's not a novel concept, as people in the Renaissance, like Alberti and Brunelleschi, had similar interests. That's the union we're seeking to innovate.
Ficture Architecture: In light of the ever-evolving landscape of technology, how do you see it reshaping the methods in which we design, manufacture, and consume?
Shajay Bhooshan: This transformation has multiple layers, much like in many other fields such as the so-called creative fields of music. Computers are not only accelerating productivity but are also enabling the pursuit of new solutions and areas of interest that we would have never been able to explore without them. They expand the boundaries of exploration, at the same time allowing for the exploitation of things discovered. This means you can create things more efficiently and improve performance. Furthermore, you can seek new forms and new ways of organizing spaces, which most likely wouldn't be possible without the use of computers. This is as true in architecture as it is in music. For instance, the algorithmic music that artists like Brian Eno and Xenakis began experimenting with in the '60s and '70s is now yielding results.
Ficture Architecture: In your opinion, how can architecture foster more effective communication and interaction?
Shajay Bhooshan: For instance, in a science building, a bank, or a research institute, we strive to encourage more interaction. If the building can adjust to people's preferences while also influencing these preferences, people who might not usually interact can meet. If we can eliminate barriers like cubicles and use new degrees of freedom of double curvature, which is now easier to construct, we can enhance productivity. We seek to better our social lives through the built environment, a significant component of our social life. This is how we envision the consumption of architecture will evolve if buildings begin to participate more actively in people's daily lives and their work.
Ficture Architecture: Thank you for providing these insights on this topic and thank you for your time and participation in this interview.
Shajay Bhooshan: Thanks for the interview.