This narrative was submitted as part of a competition entry in the CTBUH 2015 International StudentTall Building Design Competition
Location: 39°56’44.1”N 116°23’17.8”E (Beijing)
On a Resurgence:
This competition brief suggests the resurgence of the skyscraper typology. Accepting this assertion we must further examine the milieu in which it is occurring. Unlike past upsurges, which were predicated upon the bravado of corporate procurers, this cycle has advanced by way of booming population growth experienced in the rising global cities. As the emergence of the modern skyscraper coincided with the establishment of modern capitalism Mies’ image of the Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper became the figurehead of the glossy corporate downtown – the iconic figure standing tall was synonymous with the singularity of a corporate entity.
An Aesthetic of Aggregation and Blurred Figures:
With this in mind, the architectural provocation or inquiry regarding the current circumstances turns to one of aesthetics and representation. How might one envisage a new connotation of tall buildings in the urban environment? – a figure which surrenders to the representation of the populous and their dwellings. And what would such an abdication look like when the sleek image of the corporate downtown cedes to the lo-fi patchwork of aggregated domiciles? A bricolages of Mies and the populous favelas of Caracas may ensue (see La Torre de David).
In clarification, the preceding thoughts must not be misconstrued as a fetishization of poverty, but rather a suggestion that the complex spatial organizations present in informal and even medieval cities is an aesthetic which is a more true manifestation of the human spatiotemporal psyche.
Economies of the Commonwealth:
Fostering an amicable transition from the image of the corporate to the commoner (and to avoid the cacophony of issues that arise in informal establishments) the adverse taboo of the social housing highrise must finally subside in totality. In kind the skyscraper will be alleviated from its current allegorical demeanor of finance and power to a demarcation of individuals. This will require the unwavering investment and support of governments which is superior to their retroactive responses to informal settlements.
In this emerging world it is imperative to step away from models based on economy of means in embracement of an economy of the commonwealth. One should not feel guilty or naive in this thought nor should one dismiss it as utopic ignorance. In justification, no one needs a public park but the betterment they provide a society outweighs the capital required for their establishment and upkeep – here pleasure overcomes economy and spatial efficiency yields to the commons.
Questioning the Covenant of ‘Context’:
In the post global, post digital world, the notion of ‘place’ and ‘global audience’ becomes increasingly obscured. Our capability to holistically study ‘systems’ and linkages is an involuted process and as we learn that all things are interconnected, it is impossible to ascertain where one system of context begins and another ends. This system-based approach to architecture has proved infertile as the conveyor of ‘an Architecture’ therefore, we must question the architectural covenant of context.
In investigation of the aforementioned topics, this project utilizes the devices of visual depth and complex organization to examine an alternative form of cohesion. This is accomplished through the use of a rigorously layered system of grids to establish a typical repeating floor plate. The system is then ‘glitched’ to create new forms of visual and spatial configurations based on vastness and highly focused views. In doing so the project proposes a new monumentality based on aggregation – whereby, an icon becomes a blurred figure.