Peter fade away? Skyscrapers definitely do not fit in

Peter Buchanan asks us – Is the tall building in a
historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed? Is it a
mistake in chronology, or does it belong to another time? Is it just another brief,
significant moment in time that will soon pass and fade away? Skyscrapers
definitely do not fit in with the times, considering the increasing demands in
consumption of fuel and natural resources – something man is trying to become
less dependent on; a struggle to maintain balance in this already fragile
ecosystem.

Such buildings continue to be built, irrespective of whether
they blend with their immediate surroundings or just impose themselves in a
particular urban environment. Most of these structures appear dull and
lifeless, thus affecting social and economic functioning of normal city life.

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In a quest to achieve sustainability and create green
buildings, architects are giving birth to a new genre of building – a living,
breathing, more complete form in all respects, right from natural lighting and ventilation,
cutting energy costs by using energy from sunlight and wind, to water and
sewage recycling systems.

An example of green tower design is Foster and Partners’ 30 St. Mary Axe in the City of London,
built from 1997 to 2004 for Swiss Re, a reinsurance company. The design is
generated by a circular plan – stacked and rotated – varying in size giving the
tower a sleek from tapering in tight curves to the crowning dome. The
180-meter-high, 40-storey, 76,000-squre-meter tower is said to be London’s first
environmental skyscraper. Its aerodynamic, glazed shape minimizes wind loads
and maximizes natural light and ventilation, reducing the building’s energy
consumption to 50 percent of that of a traditional large office building.

The external diagonal steel structure uses triangular forms,
thus making it strong and permitting a flexible column-free interior space. The
building’s height was made feasible by the use of a peripheral “diagrid”, in
which all the steel elements interlock.

At the edge of each floor plate is a spiral atrium, created
by “twisting” each successive floor, allowing natural ventilation, although
air-conditioning is also incorporated. At every sixth floor, the atria feature
gardens that control and purify moving air and divide the building into fire
safety zones.

Towers have long been associated with waste, inequality and
restrained panoptic working conditions. They can be made self-efficient and
alluring sociable places for living and working. The future of towers would
largely depend on what type of living environment would be preferred in the
years to come.

We are entering into a new phase of development – the
Conceptual Age – where economy is becoming increasingly centered on creativity
and culture instead of droll physical and mental work. Sustainability requires
that man draws the line between ecological impacts and creation of humane
cultural and urban frameworks, all in connection with one’s self, others and
nature.

This might be the real reason that the tower seems an
anachronism.