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The Problem Solver

Jan. 29, 2016

Shadi Shahrokhi pioneers a new breed of architecture for the modern-day metropolis.

I can’t tell if your furniture is tech or if your tech is furniture. I don’t know if something will light up if I go to touch it. It’s fantastic,” said i+s Staff Photographer Matthew Olive, reacting to the transformation of Trak-Kit’s shop and studio on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan.

It is a perfect summation of the blurring of lines company founder and architect Shadi Shahrokhi has strived for in his various ventures—Trak-Kit being only one. Both that brand and Flow Architech were born from Shahrokhi’s undying passion for integrating more functional design into the everyday life of an urban dweller.

Speaker and track system prototypes and samples from each are strewn about and the entire space is essentially one big mock-up of Shahrokhi’s philosophy. Upon entering you’re greeted by a 1960 Dominator—a rare vintage motorcycle from New Zealand (he’s a collector). Look up and you realize that tucked into the ceiling is a communal desk that can drop down to transform the space into a meeting room. Walk in even further and on the other end is a corner that houses the first prototype of a drop-down bed he developed about six years ago.

“The greenest city in the country is New York, because we’re all packed up vertically,” he explains, jovially swinging his ankles as he’s photographed, seated on said bed and suspended in mid-air. “From an architectural point of view, if the world population reaches 9 billion by 2050 and if records show that 80 percent will be living in a metropolis, then we can easily calculate from that that spaces are going to be very limited.”

The solution? Do away with compartmentalized living (and working, for that matter).

“Nothing moves in a typical room,” he says, “and when it’s not used for most of the day, you can’t afford that in a tight urban space.” The various architectural interventions Shahrokhi has developed—such as the Trak-Kit system that allows you to manipulate flatscreens throughout a room, or Flow Architech products that seamlessly marry architecture and technology—can make one room easily transform from one “purpose” to the next (sleep, entertainment, work).

He credits companies like Bang & Olufsen and of course Apple with changing the face of technology design and helping
to move his work along. Bringing A&D and the technology sector onto the same playing field has also been a strong driver in his practice. He’s started a discourse on offering an “architech” degree, as combining the study of both would result in great strides and improvements in smarter, more efficient buildings.

To that point, he’s seen university architecture programs go one of two ways: “architecture as art” and “architecture as a problem-solver.”
And we need to push for the latter.

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