Hanif Kara

Design Director, AKT II, London
Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology, Harvard GSD Boston

Hanif Kara is one of today’s greatest engineers who designed elegant solutions for the most challenging and enhancing architecture.

Hanif Kara
 photo © Jan Friedlein

Engineering & Architecture Lecture

October 9, 2018
Introduction by Professor Yves Weinand

Hosted by Archizoom and IBOIS, EPFL. This invitation is the result of HanifKara’s long time interest in IBOIS’ research.

Curious Engineering Design Practice
The identifiable metrics and the traditions of structural engineering show a discipline characterised by polarised practice that is decisive, often mistakenly based on intuition and increasingly reliant on finite technology. Over the last two decades, the work of AKT II demonstrates a different characterisation born out of a contemporary approach to the discipline, a particular approach that bridges those qualities with design through dismantling traditional understanding of the discipline, in order to stay relevant.

In this work, the most important characterisation of the practice remains weightless: creativity, rigour, passion, curiosity, incremental innovation and aesthetic appreciation. This then weaves through the projects and our encounters in the wider context of economic challenges, ecological denial and political transformation in the new world order. This lecture, through the examples of projects, will show the ideas that come out of construction, design practice and engagement between academia and the built environment.


Professor Hanif Kara is a practising engineer and a principal at London-based structural engineering studio AKT II. Their work has gained international recognition for its successful collaborations with renowned developers, architects and academic institutions, driven by a reputation for delivery combined with a penchant for research, speculation and experimentation. Hanif is currently Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard, and has published widely in technical journals and the industry on issues of design and interdisciplinary practice.

Beyond his projects and academic commitments, Hanif’s global footprint has seen success that led to receiving the ACE Engineering Ambassador Award in 2011. He became the first engineer to be a judge for the annual coveted RIBA Stirling Prize in 2011, and was the first structural engineer to be appointed Commissioner for CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, 2008-2012), and more recently he sat on the steering committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The practice has won over 350 design awards, including the Stirling Prize in 2000 and 2012.

Henderson Waves Footbridge, Singapore

UK Pavilion Expo Shanghi 2010

Heydar-Aliyev-Centre. Architect Zaha Hadid © Hufton+Crow

Ravensbourne College London

BIG’s Serpentine Pavilion, London 2016