Monday, 4 June 2007

The Race for the World's Tallest Building



As I was surfing the net, looking at the latest news on the latest tower designs and so on... I found this interesting and controversial article written at 17-9-2001, just 6 days after the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. The article, "The End of Tall Buildings", is written by James Howard Kunstler and Nikos A. Salingaros.

Its funny because reading it 7 years later adds an interesting perspective. And whats funnier is that people kept commenting at the article even 5 years later after it was published.

"We are convinced that the age of skyscrapers is at an end. It must now be considered an experimental building typology that has failed. We predict that no new mega towers will be built, and existing ones are destined to be dismantled."

That's how the article starts... and it goes on pointing out criticisms of tall buildings and tries to provide alternatives.

I happen to agree with the main principles of the author... tall buildings tend to overload their sites and misleads city habitats. If a weight scale has a limit of 200kg, a 250kg man standing on it will only break the scale... And I believe that's exactly what many of the skyscrapers being built today are doing to cities worldwide.

When skyscrapers where first built, it was thought of as a monument or a landmark. However, today at a time when the record for tall building will stay for 10 minutes before another building claims that honor, tall buildings are a symbol of modernity, power, and wealth. In my opinion both views of tall buildings, are harming the urban fabric of the city... Buildings are first and foremost functional... Yes they have to be beautiful, intriguing, and pleasing to the eye... but this beauty is a function... not a symbol for wealth and power; beauty implies comfort... comfort leads to productivity... and increasing productivity is one of the functions of buildings.

I am not totally against tall buildings... I believe they are necessary to create a landmark in a city... because as the article stated one of human instincts is the joy of climbing up to the sky and looking at earth from a bird's eye view... Tall buildings may even be of good use in a city like New York or London, a city where land is diminishing yet has a good base for transportation as well as a multiple means available. However, many cities like Dubai or Manama that are stacking up their skyscrapers are not carefully studying their cities capacities, there are huge amount of unused land that can be developed, plus their only means of transportation is cars, thus concentrating people in certain areas may not be the best solution... in many situations there are not enough car parks available for the building occupants... in addition to the rush hours that you'll get because of concentrating thousands of people in an area that can accommodate only hundreds for example... hence the example of the weight scale...

The prophecy stated in the article did not happen... Skyscrapers are increasingly determining the skylines of many cities world wide... but if you look at where those record breaking skyscrapers are being built... you will find that they are mostly found in third world emerging countries... its a desperate screaming attempt for attention... we are trying to say, "Hey Europe, you America as well... we are just as modern and wealthy as you are!!" Which is working for now considering the amount of investments that our countries are getting from the west... however, is this approach sustainable?? Once the oil runs dry... our wallets get thinner... will the investments keep flowing like it is now??? I would like to say yes... but something deep inside me says otherwise...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You make alot of sence. And its also a sign of the times.

Anonymous said...

i agree with you, but a city like dubai when they run out of oil they will have tourism and many investments to make.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Skyscrappers are important for green building. Read the United States Green Building Council's "LEED" requirements in the Green Building Rating SYstem for New Construction & Major Renovations. There is a section called Sustainable Sites (SS). In this sections it shows the prereqs for having a project Leed Certified and ways to acquire points toward Silver, Gold, and Platinum rating. The idea is to be good steward of the world we live in. These giant buildings use millions of gallons of water just to flush the toilets everyday. By registering your project as Leed you will have to utilize different methods such as the proposed wind mill at the top of the Freedom Tower and by building up in stead of out you will use less land that can be used for farming and ranching.

Anonymous said...

i agree that those skyscrapers lead those countries to worldwide and absolutely it provides a better foundation wherein the city of that country may known for its landmark... but ofcourse there are many things that may cause in building those kind of skyscrapers like for example it may affect the balance of the economy as well as the everyday living of those people in that area... that's all and thank you for having this kind of page in internet!

Anonymous said...

Look into waterless urinals. Each one can save 24,000 gallons of water a year with a simple concentric U-bend filled with an inert material. Look into saltwater toilets that output to mangroves instead of sewage treatment. The solutions are there but most people even in the industry are arrogant or ignorant.

Alan said...

There is a general tendency to show yourself bigger and stronger then the others, and building skyscrapers is a part of this process. Well! They solve other purposes too, and provide you a lots of space without covering much of the land area.

Alan
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