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”.
when you think of foster and partners, you typically think of elegant structural solutions for difficult architectural problems. but in this borg-like master plan, foster and partners have focused on an environmental solution for a urban problem. the 6 million sq ft city in abu dhabi plans on emitting no carbon and generating zero waste through the use of integrated solar power, wind power, and a dr. evil train system.
in the energy debate between increasing fossil fuel supplies and encouraging nascent alternative technologies, a return to geothermal, one of the oldest sources of heat, is left patiently waiting in the corner.
there are two notable issues in this development: one is the scale of using geothermal to provide 1/3 of the heat for a close to 500,000 sq. ft. building and the other is providing it in a climate like paris.
read about it on inhabitat.com .
radiohead just released a beautiful video for their track “house of cards”, that is 100% live action and shot 100% without cameras. the filmmakers teamed up with researchers from UCLA to create the entire video from digital scanning technology. some of the most compelling parts of the film come from creatively disrupting the data between the subject and the receptors, creating vaporizing, melting, and pixelating effects.
watch the video here.
and the making of here.
this has been stirring up a lot of talk on the web. but what people don’t know, is that you need to be using a cathode monitor (big- not LCD), for it to save energy. if you’re on a LCD screen, it will actually use more energy. treehugger.com reported a plug-in for LCD systems that would adapt the browser to display the most energy efficient color. I haven’t found this yet….
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.