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The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise Building. Assistant Professor Isaac Lerner, EMU. The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise Building Two Cultures.

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the identity of place as constituted by the bioclimatic high rise building

The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise Building

Assistant Professor Isaac Lerner, EMU

the identity of place as constituted by the bioclimatic high rise building two cultures
The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise BuildingTwo Cultures
  • Identity as the expression of the relationship between architectural form (the high-rise building) and cultural context is the theme of this paper.
  • The cultural environment primarily influences the formation of architectural identity as a building represents or exemplifies a society and its total way of life.
  • The formative influences of a building include the physical and climatic site conditions but more fundamentally cultural context which will be referred in the discussion below as:
    • the Industrial or Modern environment /worldview and
    • the Post-Industrial or Postmodern information environment/worldview

The analysis of the formative and structural aspects of the modern and postmodern environments, and the development of their respective high-rise buildings, will be discussed with regard to the relationship with physical and cultural context that the high-rise form exemplifies.

the identity of place as constituted by the bioclimatic high rise building two cultures1
The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise BuildingTwo Cultures
  • It could be argued that buildings, just as individuals, are products of their environment.
  • Within certain disciplines such as media and cultural studies, and particularly in the work of communications theorist Marshal McLuhan (1911-1980), social or cultural environments are not conceived of as neutral containers, but rather, as active processes due to media infrastructural conditioning that shape perception and in turn influence style.
  • In this regard, style is understood as a representation of the perceptual and consequently conceptual pre-dispositional influences imbedded in environments and exemplified by architectural expression..
the identity of place as constituted by the bioclimatic high rise building two cultures2
The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise BuildingTwo Cultures
  • By applying McLuhan’s work in our analysis of the Modern, or mechanical-industrial, and Postmodern, or electric-information periods, we will discover that the latter period fostered an integrated and participatory attitude towards design as responsive to the total cultural needs which are physical, psychological and social.
  • The Industrial Modern period reduced design to the expression of essentially econocentric and techno-centric values as it conceived the building as mainly site independent, or as neutral object in the social and cultural context. The more holistic approach is due to the pre-dispositions which characterize an identity formed in the information or cybernetic age, which perceives physical and cultural context as dynamic field of co-formal co-creative relationships, rather than as a inert container of objects.
the identity of place as constituted by the bioclimatic high rise building two cultures3
The Identity of Place as Constituted by the Bioclimatic High-Rise BuildingTwo Cultures
  • McLuhan’s communication theory of cultural change helps us understand the processes conditioning identity, or the pre-dispositional bias that informs architectural design, due to the media infrastructural development of the cultural context.
  • These infrastructural developments are cultural processes that transform human perception and sensibilities, which in turn inform the paradigm shift from the mechanical modern age to the cybernetic postmodern period.
  • The bias for uniform repeatable objects detached from environmental interaction, as product of the mechanical age, versus the production of integrated-responsive or green-sustainable buildings in the postmodern age is a contrast that McLuhan’s work can account for.
modernity mechanization and mass production
Modernity: Mechanization and Mass Production
  • McLuhan’s structural communications analytic involves the study of the evolution of culture in terms of their constitutive technological or media environments which are extensions of human senses, organs or functions.
  • With the invention of mechanical printing in the 16th century, by means of repeatable phonetic type, there was a great qualitative extension of phonetic literacy as books became the first uniform mass produced commodity.
  • The image of linear, uniform, repeatable, type as the prototype of all machines intensified a visual or eye bias that trained the identity of modern culture.
modernity mechanization and mass production1
Modernity: Mechanization and Mass Production

This extension of the human body, the eye, shaped and transformed the entire environment, psychic and social, and consequently fostered the rise of the assembly line and its consequence, the Industrial Revolution. Printing was the first mechanization of a complex handicraft, handwriting, and by creating an analytic sequence of step by step processes it became the blueprint of all mechanization to follow. The most important quality of print is its repeatability; it is a visual statement that can be reproduced indefinitely, and repeatability is the root of the mechanical principle that has transformed the world since Guttenberg. Typography, by producing the first uniform repeatable commodity, also created Henry Ford, the first assembly line and the first mass production. Movable type was the archetype and prototype for all subsequent industrial development. Without phonetic literacy and the printing press, modern industrialism would be impossible. It is necessary to recognize literacy as typographic technology, shaping not only production and marketing procedures but all other areas of life, from education to city planning. (McLuhan, Understanding Media)

postmodern automation cybernetic feedback and mass production
Postmodern: Automation (cybernetic feedback) and Mass Production
  • Electric media unlike the printing press or other mechanical extensions, which extend parts of the human organism, extends the human nervous system.
  • This extension and attendant service environment is and inclusive integrating medium that unifies all previous extensions on a macroscopic global scale and transforms all aspects of our social psychic being.
  • A dramatic change occurring over the last fifty years, since the invention of television whereby, “three thousand years of differing degrees of visualization, atomization, and mechanization including the intensified period of the age of print from approximately 1500 to 1900, is being rapidly obsolesced”. (McLuhan, UM)
postmodern automation cybernetic feedback and mass production1
Postmodern: Automation (cybernetic feedback) and Mass Production
  • The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems have also induced a new image of us and our worlds.
  • This is a new identity due to the informational infrastructures which immerse us totally in a process of instantaneous communication and information processing enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind.
  • This sense of a participatory and responsive involvement, as a central feature of the emergent contemporary electronic environment, contrasts dramatically with the image of literate man under the influence of abstract and dualistic mechanistic fragmentation which alienates him from others and the world.
  • The image of a unified culture, epitomizing the ecological attitude in the post literate society, valorizes such issues as regionalism, pluralism and participation, as for example can be identified in the work of green-sustainable high-rises.
slide10
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • The building syntax of the high-rise, as it evolved in America since the 1880’s, is of a tower consisting of stacked floors around a core, skeletal frame and curtain wall, which facilitates open planning and generous amounts of glazing on the façade to illuminate extensive floor areas.

Jenny; Fair Store, Chicago, 1886

  • However, the invention of the steel frame and the mechanical elevator were the most crucial constituent elements of a formal grammar which symbolized wealth and political; a symbol expressing the economic achievements of China today.
  • Not until the end of the Second World War was American industrial infrastructure equipped to manufacture the Modernist image of glass and steel high-rise.
slide11
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • Not until the end of the Second World War was American industrial infrastructure equipped to manufacture the Modernist image of glass and steel high-rise. This image was projected by Mies van derRohe’s ideal proposal, in 1921, for the Friedrichstrasse Office Building.
  • The standard point block represents the rapid urbanization of American cities since the turn of the last century. A process of development facilitated by the grid layout of uniform repeatable blocks creating a mechanical matrix designed, not for pedestrian movement, but for the automobile.
slide12
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • The curtain walled Lever Building by Gordon Bunshaft, built some 30 years after Mies’ ideal designs (1952) gave the glass skyscraper its definitive form, and became the archetype for a proliferation of standard

towers around the world.

  • Also, by 1954 Mies had constructed the Seagram Building ,across from the Lever House, whereby both had introduced pedestrian scale exterior spaces for the first time in the industrial urban framework of the city.
  • Lever House was the first building in Manhattan to be set back from the plot boundary while the tower rises up from a three-storey perimeter courtyard block on an arcaded colonnade.
  • By contrast with latter’s horizontally and vertically opposed slabs the Seagram building is a dominant tower, also set back from the building line, and fronted by an open ‘piazza’. Although both these exterior spaces foster social communication and humanize the environment by violating the urban grid system which privileges communication by automobile; by retrieving traditional archetypal human sustainable spaces such as the agora, plaza or town square.
slide13
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • In contrast to these socially and ecologically neutral forms a variation on the standard tower was the introduction of a central atrium space which could be designed to introduce natural lighting and ventilation but, more significantly, was conceived in terms of the value of social interaction in order to enhance a feeling of community.
  • The first atriums appeared in the Bradbury building constructed in Los Angeles, 1896, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building of 1908. The difference between these two buildings is significant.
slide14
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • In the Bradbury building the atrium is a utilitarian and not a social space facilitating transportation and not communication. Its atrium contained the elevator and staircases connected to mezzanines lined with individually enclosed offices. There is minimal communication among those who work in this building.
  • Wright’s intentions were different. The Larkin Building frees the atrium of these movement systems by marginalizing them to the corners of the building. His intent was to provide a social dimension or communal work space by opposing two Chicago style facades across the atrium in the manner of a simulated but user-friendly street. He generated a socially sustainable space in response to the negative conditions of a building situated among the rail yards in Buffalo.
  • The consequence was an open atrium, with natural light from above and where each floor was completely open to the atrium, creating a vast unitary space from any point of which it was possible to see into most other parts of the building. This fostered, by means of human scale embodied communication, a collective identity that socializes the work space, rather than the mechanical fragmentation of souls in the Bradbury building.
slide15
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • However, a concern for atrium design, since the Larkin Building, remained dormant until both Richard Rogers and Norman Foster retrieved the concept for Lloyd’s headquarters in London (1986), and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (1986).
  • Similar to the Larkin building, and in addition to a number of well-crafted hi-tech features regarding structure, cladding, modular service components the atria and highly visible localized movement systems were purposely designed to increase social contact between the building’s occupants.
  • A well-crafted distinctive hi-tech form, using emergent green technologies while enhancing social sustainability resulted in customizing the expression of the form.
  • This attitude breaks with the modernist tradition of mechanical uniformity, a tendency reinforced by the fact that hi-tech components were crafted by the computer using CAD-CAM design.
slide16
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • The Hong and Shanghai Bank share certain pejorative features with the standard tower which limits the social sustainability and the potential for customized hi-rise design.
  • In order to respond to these limitations and enhance the contextual and humanist interactive dimensions of the high-rise another approach to design was introduced in 1982 by Gordon Bunshaft, with the construction of the National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia.
  • In this building we find the most fascinating synthesis of tradition forms with social, natural and formal constraints in the design of the Modern high-rise; radical shift in Modern Architecture, away from universality, towards a regionalized modernism.
  • In order to deal with the intense desert sun the entire exterior surface of the building is clad with an insulated stone curtain wall. As a result the glazed surfaces are contained within three shaded sky courts, or perched courtyards, which spiral about the triangular prismatic form of the building.
  • The Middle Eastern courtyard house was a passive energy device which in this building fragments the superhuman scale of its form into three human scale midrise building by resituating the ground at three new levels.
  • There is a chimney in the centre of the building that promotes the upward movement of air through the courtyards which passively cools the building form.
  • The humanizing, and consequently individualizing identity, of using a vernacular element in a uniquely modern way, by virtually raising the ground at several levels so that this building consists perceptually of three mid-rise buildings, provides the sociability and community while effectively internalizing a natural context;
slide17
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • The current interest with the ecological or green-sustainable high-rise architecture, as a complex synthesis of social, cultural and natural constraints represents an emergent contextual identity reflecting the shift towards a post-industrial information culture.
  • In the postmodern electric age the notion of sustainability, or becoming increasingly conscious of consequences, is a natural effect of the information environment which extends our nervous system while instantaneously involving each person with everyone else across time and space; in the image of the global village.
  • These technologies are used in various control systems or computerized building management systems (BMS). Also state-of-the-art computer techniques and ‘virtual prototypes’ are being employed to simulate the likely conditions of the building’s design and climate control systems under all external weathers and internal conditions. In addition to using IT in the development of ecological principles, digital networks and AEC-BIM modeling software facilitates collaborative design among architects, engineers and others in an expanding dialogical design space.
slide18
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • The new generation of sustainable high-rise buildings incorporates many of these ecological principles imaginatively while augmenting them with new and emergent technologies and techniques.
  • In the same sky-court genre as the National Commerce Bank by Bunshaft, the MenaraMesiniaga building (IMAGE8.jpg) by T.R. Hamzah & Yeang, situated on the outskirts of Kuala Lampur, is a significant exemplar of the bioclimatic high-rise concept.
  • Also, the Commerzbank (Image9.jpg) completed in 1997, in Frankfurt by Foster, uses many of the features mentioned above as well as innovations of its own. Whereas in Bunshaft’s bank the sky courts are open, here the ‘sky gardens’ are closed by four-storey- high glass walls, sheltering the gardens behind and making them available throughout the year for informal working meetings as well as recreation. The gardens allow maximum penetration of light as well as views in both directions, either across the gardens or outside fostering human scale sensory interaction.
slide19
Paradigm ShiftA Concise History of the Evolution of the High-Rise Between the Modern and Postmodern Periods
  • Another example of Foster’s work, designed according to similar ecological principles, is the bullet shaped structure of the Swiss Re Tower (IMAGE10.jpg) which was completed in 2003 in London.
  • To facilitate ecological design and with the aid of the complexity of disciplines and specialists involved, parametric AEC-BIM modeling, a computer technique was used throughout the design process, which automatically adjusts for any changes to one aspect or system for all other aspects or components.
  • With this technology the building drawings are not longer conceived of as representational images but as an interactive database in which all the systems and components have been translated into information.
  • Designers are now engaged in a dialogical space or resonant informational field facilitating design and in which drawings are not the final project but indexes of a collaborative interactivity in a community of designers.
  • Hence, the socialization of the design, a microcosm of the global village, represents a complex process in the production of buildings resulting in a bespoke or responsive identity.
conclusion
Conclusion
  • The sustainable building is a product of the contemporary interest in ecology, as an interactive environment facilitated by the electronic infrastructural ground
  • an environment constituted by material needs such as shelter (energy, cladding, construction and communication systems) but also for psychological and social needs expressed by the use of traditional vernacular forms used as modern passive techniques for natural light and ventilation, multi-level gardens, interactive devices for personal services, and high-tech imagery
  • which represents a return to craftsmanship exemplifying a means of diverse and unique form-making
  • these features, among others, help foster the uniqueness of form as the product of effective or bespoke response to natural site and cultural contexts. The result is architecture of place expressing an authentic identity, as opposed to the modernist abstracted object, which speaks dominantly of industrial values and interests and not of the diversity of cultural regions.
conclusion1
Conclusion
  • Since the ecological building not only extends requirements for material needs of shelter but also the psychological and sociological requirements, the building functions as an extension of the ‘mind’ of the user and represents ‘bespoke’ design as a particular identity between architecture form and culture. Metaphorically speaking, the building is not occupied buy rather it ‘occupies’ the user; an occupation facilitated by the extension of his/her nervous system as exemplified by intelligent bioclimatic buildings.