Design Thinking, Covid-19, People, Interview, Architecture, Commercial architecture | Supreeth Sudhakaran

Frozen Music & Fluid storytelling

In conversation with Katrin Förster, International Key Account Manager - Architects and Interior Designers, ABB on the Frozen Music series

What was the idea behind creating this video series??

In March 2020, I planned to attend a major event for architects called Dialogues in Chandigarh India. The well-known figure behind this annual gathering of architects and selected industry partners is architect Sanjay Puri.

Fourteen days before the event, I had to cancel my flights and hotel bookings in India because Germany had 1000 cases of Covid-19, which seemed to be a lot at that time. In India, the situation still was ok, but everyone knew what was looming.

Since then, I have not travelled, and all the events, awards celebrations, exhibitions and festivals for architects that we used to support were cancelled in 2020. I discussed the situation with my boss, and he suggested that we go online with videos.

I knew right away what kind of videos I would like to produce. Not product-focused videos, but short films that focus on architects and architecture and gives them a chance to have their projects introduced to a global community. ?

I have a brilliant colleague that produces the videos with me. A key element of the series is visiting a colourful bouquet of architectural projects spanning many different countries and cultures. The series is international, diverse and open.

What are the key criteria you consider when choosing a project to feature in the series?

We are looking for architectural firms that create projects with a strong narrative behind their design, history, context to location, impact on the environment, community, and socialization.?

We choose each project for our Frozen Music video series from a different country, to highlight the different architects and architectural firms that created them. From small young practices to super big and famous architectural firms, we strive for variety. Anyone, anywhere who has designed an architecturally outstanding project with an interesting story to tell is someone we’re interested in.

Till now multiple episodes have been published. How many more are in the pipeline?

In April we will publish Episode #12 of the Frozen Music Series, so this will be the one-year anniversary of the show. In the new season of Frozen Music, we will change a few details, and perhaps also the sequence of publishing dates. When travelling is possible again, it might turn out that we do both- videos and live events in parallel. We have brilliant projects still in the pipeline, and we are very open to new ones.?

Amongst those already featured, which project is closest to your heart, and why?

The newest project featured is always the closest, because one has sort of just taken “a bath” in it. But it’s very difficult to pick one, as the projects are so diverse, and each offers unique details that the other ones do not have.?

I love the design of the seashell pavilion of Azure the Oceanic in Chennai, India, and how the opulent frame around the pavilion literally also frames the views on the Bay of Bengal! Very well done by WOW Architects in Episode #4.

And I also really like episode #9 -- the Museum designed by Emre Arolat Architecture in Istanbul – it is a masterpiece of reinventing an unused warehouse building.

Yet the charm of the UNESCO World Heritage medieval tower in Tallinn, Estonia called “Fat Margarete” featured in Episode #3, is also amazing. KoKo Architects did a great job in how they restored the complex.

The fourth episode of the series was about the WOW project in Chennai, India. Tell us a bit about this.

I’ve known WOW architects for quite a while now. I am a big fan of both their work and of owners Maria Warner Wong and Wong Chiu-Man. Both are super inspiring and open-minded people, and very pleasant to be with. When I asked them both to imagine a project they could feature in our video series, their idea was to introduce Azure the Oceanic, by developer Appaswamy Real Estate.?

What a brilliant project to present! It is an icon in a prominent destination and will draw a lot of attention to the location. It might become a catalyst for the region, not only attracting people to live there, but to grow the focus on sustainable and yet very attractive architecture. ABB’s i-bus KNX technology is one of the key elements that supports both the environmentally friendly aspect and raises the comfort for inhabitants to a very high standard -- not to mention a significant gain in safety and security for all people living in the building.

Wong Chiu Man from WOW adds, “It is no longer about simple ‘LUXURY’, but rather about how responsible and environmentally–sensitive high quality residential lifestyles should be defined in the 21st century. We hope to set a new benchmark standard for architectural detailing, sustainable technology, and spatial and experiential quality for India.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the architecture and design industry as well. Spaces were created earlier to bring people closer. Now, spaces are more focused on keeping people apart. How can ABB solutions help with this?

Covid-19 will leave its footprint in numerous ways. In general, hygiene standards will change, as everyone is much more aware of how quickly and easily this virus can spread.

With ABB building technology, controlling building functions remotely via phone or voice control minimizes contamination of surfaces and reduces exposure. Movement sensors and presence detection also minimize the need to touch surfaces in public areas. Sensors can also steer access to rooms or locations depending on the actual occupation.?

We will think differently about “good air quality”. It is no longer just CO (Carbon Monoxide) that we want to control, but also the density of aerosols that could harm building users. Therefore, I believe there could be a higher focus on air-quality control solutions, too. Our sensors can measure CO, temperature, and humidity simultaneously, and the systems can take care of air circulation and air-exchange. There are so many possibilities for improvement.