over the last few weeks, a new design for a skyscraper with rotating floors has been emailed in and out of most architectural offices on the planet with subject lines such as “check this out”. with it’s shiny, seductive renderings, dr. david fisher’s kinetic design for a dubai skyscraper has exploded on the internet, not just fueled by it’s architectural promise but also by questions of it’s validity. regardless of any controversy that may have been generated, it looks like the project has gained quite a lot of interest by potential investors and buyers, receiving 600 reservation requests in 3 weeks for the $30 million units.
for all of the chatter this project has created, there are two elements that I think have been overlooked. one is the modularity of the building. fisher plans to construct all of the interior spaces offsite, and then plug them in an archigram fashion. this creates a unique potential for savings in constructibility for the project, and is one of the more plausible components of the design.
the other, and more important element that has been overlooked is the missed opportunity that lies in the performative potential of moving components. the design claims to be green, suggesting windmills located between the floors that power the rotating components. individuals control the rotation of their own floors, so it is unlikely that these elegant patterns shown in the renderings would emerge, or even move much at all. if some one found a view they liked, it seems more plausible that they would just leave their unit facing that direction and leave it at that. the missed opportunity is to have no motors, no powering of the rotating floors at all- just let the wind power the rotations, in turn generating energy like a giant vertical axis windmill. this would elevate the project from simple novelty to performative device, creating a productive use for the elaborate engineering that would be necessary with interesting architectural benefits as well.
as we move further and further from the age of the bilbao effect, there are two potential outcomes: one is that buildings become more simple and restrained, the other is that buildings keep the same level of complexity but gather more performative use from the complexity itself. both have opportunities for sustainable design, and both have their own marketability, but only one will be emailed from architecture office to architecture office with subject lines that read “check this out”.
I wanted to point out a very interesting piece by kazys varnelis, a former instructor of mine. kazys describes the shift in fashion away from couture, and urges architecture to do the same. this seems to be at direct odds with brooke hodge’s exhibition
at MOCA, skin and bones, which seemed to celebrate couture in both disciplines.
a lot of people have been asking me about revit- my background is with maya and rhino, so typically people are surprised to hear that I am starting to prefer a program that is so well known for restrictive modeling capabilities. I’m working on an entry that will shed light on the issue, but in the meantime this is an article by rick rundell I thought was interesting.