Oliver Lütjens & Thomas Padmanabhan

Oliver Lütjens, born 1972, studied Architecture at the ETH Zurich and at the EPF Lausanne. After his Diploma he worked for Diener & Diener, Meili Peter and OMA/ Rem Koolhaas. From 2007 until 2014 he taught as an assistant at the guest chair of Adam Caruso and Peter St John and as a head assistant at the chair of Adam Caruso at the ETH Zürich. From 2015 until 2016 Oliver Lütjens was teaching as a guest professor at TU Munich and from 2016 until 2017 as a guest professor at EPF Lausanne.
Thomas Padmanabhan, born 1970, studied Architecture at the RWTH Aachen, the Università di Roma “La Sapienza” and at Cornell University. After completing his MArch.II he worked for Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Meili Peter and Diener & Diener. From 1998 until 2000 he taught an as assistant at the chairs of Arthur Ovaska and David Lewis at Cornell University and from 2007 until 2014 he taught as an assistant at the chair of Peter Märkli and Markus Peter at ETH Zürich. From 2015 until 2016 Thomas Padmanabhan was teaching as a guest professor at TU Munich and from 2016 until 2017 as a guest professor at EPF Lausanne.
Lütjens Padmanabhan Architects was established by Oliver Lütjens and Thomas Padmanabhan in 2007.

Not a Question of Weight

Based on the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of the “field”, we will outline the architectural field in which our practice operates. We will explain how current transformations in urbanism and construction led us to a new theoretical understanding of the architectural relationship between context, expression and construction and how this new understanding becomes a powerful tool for our teaching and research.

1. Urbanism: The Reversal of the Relationship of House and Context
Seeing the dissolution of the cities’ urban fabric and facing the challenge to design in fractured urban edge conditions made us question the traditional notion of “context”. We understood that the single house is no longer embedded into a stable urban order. There are no rules to follow. Today each house has to actively contribute to the formulation of the context.

2. Ground Plan: The Autonomy of the Facade
In housing, the increasingly complex requirements (economic pressure, increasing number of bathrooms and secondary spaces, sound protection, flexibility) have undermined the typological stability of ground plans. This often leads to a fracture between the shape, the ground plan and the façade of a building. However, the departure from the idea of unity is creating the possibility for a new architectural multitude.

3. Construction: Language, Voice und Tone
The development of highly insulated multi layered façades leads to a rupture between the construction and its architectural appearance. The building’s volumetric unity is put into question. The relationship between construction and visual gestalt has to be renegotiated.