Interview with Nicolas König
What does it mean for you and your work to be honoured as a finalist for the "German Design Award 2024 - Newcomer"?
Being honoured as a finalist for the German Design Award Newcomer encourages me to explore architectural experiments. I believe that in times of environmental chaos, we need space to tell stories that inspire by talking about opportunities, potential and change. I would like to continue along this path.
You spent a semester abroad at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. To what extent did this influence your work?
In Scandinavia, they know that creative thinking requires a balanced life. At the same time, they have a fascinating understanding of collaborative work, which has influenced me a lot: I believe in the fruitfulness of creating and thinking together. The majority of my projects are collaborative.
As an architect, you are concerned with the question of how we design our living spaces and therefore the future of our planet. How do you find answers to this?
I am currently working intensively on the potential of solar radiation in our built environment, for example the solar grill project. The solar grill is an experimental instrument for sun-powered cooking that questions current consumption and cooking habits that rely on constantly available energy sources and are independent of natural rhythms. Many of my projects deal with hybrid future stories - with the synergy of nature and technology. I believe that we should carefully utilise the potential of our environment instead of fighting against nature or exploiting it irreversibly.
Fictional scenarios can be found in your portfolio as well as very pragmatic projects. What is the decisive criterion for you when approaching certain topics?
Driven by the sheer abundance of information available to us today, my projects sometimes take detours through fictional narratives. It's about constantly developing new languages that can clarify, formulate and visualise the initially vague core message of an investigation. This sometimes works better through fragmentary models, images or plans - in the end, these elements then grow together. The process requires humour, courage, hope and a kind of creative innocence. The idea lies between purposeful chaos and orderly calm.
What role do research and concept play for you and your work?
Concepts are mental constructs that can circumscribe our idea of the whole of life. Armed with the right information, architects and designers can create images, stories and spaces that overcome feelings of emptiness and overwhelm and generate optimism. Our project "A Fish Odyssey" uses a travelling figure on Lake Lugano to tell the story of the shrinking habitat beneath the surface of the water - a common result of the rising water temperatures in many lakes. At the same time, it is a first attempt to drive the water aeration that already exists in many places, i.e. the introduction of missing oxygen into the water, purely regeneratively through the sun.
You also work a lot with data. How important is it for you?
If we manage to visualise data, we can create new perspectives on what is. In my Master's thesis "The Fullfilment Paradox", I explored the profound contradictions that arise in the pursuit of endless growth and acceleration with the far-reaching implications of the accelerated pursuit of fulfilment through logistical flows in London. It is a reflection on complex webs of human desire, consumer culture and the relentless machinery of the logistics chain - always with an invitation to imagine what could be.