Learning From The Master: Tom Kundig. Lecture By Rifandi Septiawan Nugroho.

Tom Kundig was born in 1954. Albeit his graduate school program ended in 1984, he established his firm along with Jim Olson in 1986. As one of the 5 current owners of the atelier, Kundig has displayed the quality of expert craftsmanship in many of his designs, it is due to the fact that he is not a digital guy that he spent much time experimenting details which can only be achieved through manual workshop processes.

Kundig possesses basic principals of designs that flow from a micro to macro scale:

It is the most significant and displayed character of his designs. Details are the key of his works. He made his own details which most transformable, through the experiment of materials in joints, hinges, etc. In one of his project: Studio Sitges, he made an entrance within a rotating wall, in order to accommodate the needs of either small or huge crowd/opening.
Other than architectural details, he is also particular in his other (product) elements, such as door knocker, door bells, handles of furniture, etc. He believes that those small details comprise the wholeness of his designs.
The small details he piled, are then planned to be a shelter for human activities. In one of his projects, the Sol a Duc Shelter, built for a fisherman in a seasonal flooded site. He elevated the floor, and applied a movable facade. When the owner is using the shelter, the facade moves away, exposing a previously concealed wall of window. However, when he is away, the facade will retract transforming the shelter into a mere box.
Houses and Cabins & Public Buildings
He applies a principles called PUP (Personal – Universal – Personal). He believes that a personal activity should be exposed to the outer world, but then may be returned back to its personal state. It is done, using the same kinetics. For instances, he created a convertible roof using a machine like system, powered by hand. In his Chicken Point Cabin, he even built a gigantic vertically rotating glass wall to condition the amount of wind coming inside of the house.

Kundig may be one of few architects in the world who (is underrated) develops the skills of machine-like craftsmanship. By manually designing, he can achieve a specific and unique details for each of his projects.


Summary by Rifandi Septiawan Nugroho. Video Editting by Rio Sanjaya.