Thursday, 17 January 2008

The Cybertecture of the iPad and Shuffle Towers

i-Pad Tower

Shuffle Tower

In a country which has the tallest tower in the world, the largest shopping mall, a rotating tower, a copy of the Eiffel Tower, another copy of the Leaning Tower of Pizza and many more pioneering projects... I am sure you have heard of the latest additions to that intriguing portfolio: the i-pod, sorry I meant i-pad tower and the shuffle tower.

The architect, James Law, is one of the key figures in Cybertecture projects. He was a director of internationally renown US architectural design firm, Gensler International, prior to setting up James Law Cybertecture International on the first day of the new century 2001. The firm works on architectural projects, infrastructure and city planning, business strategies and communication models along with other software applications. Among the many consulting teams and collaborations the firm had in different fields, James Law Cybertecture is consulting for the United Nations for the design of a virtual world archive designed to preserve World Heritage Sites. This way the firm "develops the core Cybertecture vision of the world, in which the now and future world is designed and created inspired in a symbiotic balance between space and technology."

One may wonder where would a term such as Cybertecture emerge from. Wolf Hilbertz, a German architect, was an assistant professor in the US when he wrote his book "Toward Cybertecture", which laid the foundations for the discipline in the early 70s. It went out of fashion like other movements at the time, but we see it now making a massive comeback. I remember during my first year we had a project where we had to design a clothing item -a shirt, a hat or anything- that would resemble an architect or building. And now I do see the link between fashion design and architecture; after all both are part of our daily lives, influenced by our behaviour, and perhaps most importantly our ever changing taste for aesthetics.

Cybertecture is not CAD. Its not "colorful renderings on black backgrounds, gradually painting a dark and endless space in our minds that seems to represent the virtual reality." If the "virtual reality" was to be represented, it would be anything but a endless black space. "Moreover, cybertecture is not necessarily the re-invention of architectural languages to express instability and movement. A tilted column is no more cybernated than a straight one." Cybertecture is basically architecture that integrates virtual activities into physical spaces.

Cybertects would be creating places that need to be full of information and communication. This means that connection points is what Cybertecture is concerned with. Connections that link people and machines separated by time and space. Cybertecture is therefore responsible for realizing these connections in the physical and virtual form.

Going back to the i-pad and the shuffle towers in Dubai. What really intrigued me where the concepts behind the designs. I mean for a place like Dubai that's becoming a major hub in the world, such concepts of cybertecture is what makes Dubai what it is. Its a point of connection between people, businesses, and industries from the East and West. The shuffle tower is a mixed used development consisting of residential, commercial and office blocks; a great way to give meaning to the term shuffle besides shuffling music. Many may think that the i-pad tower is called that because of the tower shape. However, it goes beyond that. Its supposed to change our lives just like i-pods changed the life of music. The idea behind it is to fulfill the dream of living in the future; the experience of integration between technology and space, creating unlimited boundaries for young people who know how to get the most out of the technology they use and therefore their life.

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