During an interview with DesignMENA, London-based architect Asif Khan explained the driving factor behind his studio’s work, many of which delve into technology and branding.
“Our projects aren’t really about style at all,” said Khan. “They are more about shifting the lens on reality and that has a way of changing culture for people. It changes the way people interact with each other socially, it changes the environment where you give opportunities for things to happen that might not have been possible before.
“You can also play with this idea of what is public and what is not public, what kind of place would be a joy to arrive at and what might be a place you’d want to linger. And how can you make it feel like there are no barriers of entry. These are the kind of punctuation marks of architecture.”
Khan has been commissioned by brands such as Coca Cola and Swarovski to create alternative projects such as the Coca-Cola Beatbox pavilion, an interactive work that creates sound; and Parhelia that uses optical phenomenon to create halos of light.
“I am always intrigued to discover other people’s worlds and learn something from it and then reinterpret things. In a sense, you help people find a voice for something through your medium (in this case, architecture) which hasn’t been given a voice before.
“It is very exciting to put your preconceptions aside and really try to get to grips with what something means and what it could be transformed into and how we can bring that experience to people.
“And I think architecture has a great power to immerse people in different worlds,” he said.
Khan also believes strongly in creating architecture that doesn’t need a manual.
“How important is it that things can stand on their own without information?” he asks. “To me it is incredibly important. You don’t need instructions to use a forest, so I’m trying to make architecture that is as intuitive and natural in the way it works and the way it feels. To do that you need to look, study, listen and experience a lot. You have to be more observant of your surroundings. If you keep your eyes open, there is so much is waiting to be seen.”