Buildings are great. They keep you warm, you don't get wet when it rains, and they're chock full of electrical sockets you can plug your Wii into. But after thousands of years of construction it seems that architects have gotten bored of the "four walls and a roof" idea. Experiments in leaving some of those parts out didn't work too well, so they've resorted to increasingly big and bizarre ways of arranging them instead. Here's a peek into the future landscape of the unfolding century.
"Because we can" is a fantastic reason to do scientific research and maybe the only reason to climb a mountain, but the jury is still out as to whether it should apply to buildings. The new CCTV headquarters is described as a "Z Criss-cross", and when the only way you can describe your new construction is "like a letter but all twisted up", you may want to check that your designers aren't just showing off. The most striking feature is what appears to be a huge unsupported section hanging over open space, which had better feature a
An Englishman's home may be his castle, but an Indian man's home is one of the most striking buildings in the world - if he's Mukesh Ambani, who's spending almost 2% of his wealth on his house. That might sound like a small fraction for those who flinch at the phrase "mortgage rates", but when you've got over fifty billion dollars it buys you quite a lot. The twenty-seven story "living wall" will feature a wealth of greenery, elevated gardens, a cinema, six floors of parking (with an entire vehicle maintenance floor), a gym and - if all goes according to plan - three helipads. For many readers this means the building will be better equipped than their hometown. It also looks more like a game of architectural Jenga than anything else in existence.
We can only presume that the architect was busy, what with all the drinking and playing games with wooden blocks, and woke up the day the concept art was due with a hangover and ten minutes to get something ready. Luckily Star Trek was playing on the TV and the day was saved. This futuristic city couldn't look more like Kirk was about to beam into it if it was shooting at the Enterprise, complete with shiny twisting spires and (presumably) green-skinned females curious to learn about this hu-man emotion called "love".
The city is an all-or-nothing project, designed to create a new destination and then benefit from the resulting tourism. It's a gigantic concept, modestly estimated to affect every single person in the state of Penang (one and a half million of them), but faces allegations of lack of transparency and ignoring all public concerns except for the "makes money" bottom line. It has dealt with these criticisms by ignoring them as well.
Quarter of a kilometer high, the eighty-store Aqua tower has a number of unique features. For one, it sounds like the headquarters of the worst superhero in the world. For another, they've daringly done away with the tradition of reassuring solidity that most buildings that house people two-hundred meters up usually try to give, instead opting for a "great big wobbly jelly" feel. They missed a chance to really embrace that design philosophy by not building it in San Francisco, but it seems they want the building to actually survive long enough to pay for itself.
We can't help but feel sorry for the architects wife. Designed to be the tallest building in the world in not one but five different categories, the Burj Dubai tower makes buying a Hummer and dating an eighteen year old look like a modest and entirely reasonable thing for a middle-aged man to do. Official figures for the final height vary from "really really big" to "staggeringly gargantuan", with even the most modest estimate putting it at 820 m - meaning you could could stick the Eiffel tower on the Empire State building and balance the Tower of Pisa on top, straightening it up while you're at it, and only just match it.
The tower is scheduled for completion in 2009, assuming the engineers can be persuaded to stop building. You might think that such a megalithic metropolitan structure would be the final frontier in "Great Big Things", not so much a skyscraper as a sky-deeply-invasive-surgeon - but in a terrific demonstration of human nature, people are already planning to beat it. Names to watch out for the future include the Murjan Tower, Burj Mubarak al-Kabir and Al Burj, after which point oil barons may have to start watching out for satellites slamming into their penthouse windows.
Posted by Luke McKinney
Top Nine Unique Structures (four more than featured here) http://deputy-dog.com/2007/11/22/top-9-unique-structures-soon-to-be-built/?id=1206
CCTV Headquarters http://www.cctv.com/newSiteProgram/en/project_info.htm
Residence Antilia http://www.mumbaimirror.com/net/mmpaper.aspx?Page=article& sectid=15&contentid=20070530022210718d7460de5
Penang Global City Center http://www.pgcc.com.my/masterpiece.htm
Aqua Lakeshore East http://www.lakeshoreeast.com/AQUA/home.html
Burj Dubai http://www.burjdubai.com/