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Which is the better way to measure a building’s height?

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2017 by vincentloy

Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) which is considered the foremost authority on tall buildings has made it clear that it has four ways of measuring a building’s height. Out of the four, height to the architectural top is officially used to determine the list of world’s tallest building. Architectural top here includes unoccupied spires/pinnacles/parapets that are permanent and critical to the overall design while disregards antennae, signage, flagpole or other ‘functional technical equipment’.

This is the reason why the Petronas Twin Towers won over Sears Tower (now renamed Willis Tower) to become the tallest buildings in the world back in 1997. The twin towers reach the height of 452 metres including their architectural spires while Willis Tower goes up to 527 metres including its antennae. However, antenna is not included and hence the official height of Willis Tower is just 442 metres.

The other three methods on measuring a building’s height that can be seen as alternatives or extensions of the main measuring method are height to top of roof, height to highest occupied floor, and height to highest point (tip). The latter method is the one that counts everything from a building from its base to its very top including those ‘functional technical equipment’. Once Taipei 101 was built in 2003,  the skyscraper cools down the controversy by topping the world’s tallest ranking in three out of the four methods. Then, Burj Khalifa came in 2009 to take all the top spots including the world’s tallest man-made structure and it is still holding the title now. The current list of world’s top ten tallest buildings is shown below which is measured in height to architectural top: (click on the image for larger version)

Besides than these four methods, other professional industries in this field of tall buildings such as the Emporis has its own set of methods too. But not to confuse anyone further, we will just stick to the more precise ones by CTBUH at this point.

There are still many parties who are not happy with these methods. They each has its flaws. The height to tip method rewards vanity height of all stripes, which could allow designers or developers seeking a height accolade to cheaply take the top spot using any poorly designed, extraneous addition to the roof. On the other hand, height to highest occupied floor does not acknowledge the impact that a building has on the experience of the urban environment – for example, the Burj Khalifa does not appear 584 meters tall but 828 meters, and as most of us will never be lucky enough to visit its topmost floor, it seems only sensible to judge its height based on its impact on the city’s appearance.

How about height to top of roof? In the variety of design of skyscraper nowadays, it’s very hard to judge the actual roof of a particular building. Is it just the roof over the highest occupied floor or roof covering the very highest portion of the building although the floor below it is not habitable.  The Burj Khalifa has 244 meters of vanity height, but where exactly is the roof over its top floor? The tapered design of this building does not allow for such simple definitions. The definition provided also repeats the flaw of the “height to top floor” method, in that many skyscraper designs have significant architectural additions above this, which impact how they are perceived by those on the ground.

Hence, which of the four methods are the best? Of can you define what’s the ‘best’ or the ‘better’ here? Louis Sullivan, an architect who is always known as the father of skyscrapers, says “It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line”.  If we take this to be true then it is clear that measuring the height to the tip, including – and rewarding – any and all of the clutter that often adorns the tops of skyscrapers is a move against design quality.

By contrast CTBUH’s official measurement tool, at the very least, holds designers accountable for ensuring that the way a building’s height is expressed is also a factor in establishing its quoted height. As architects, shouldn’t we support any tool which encourages tall buildings to be expressed elegantly? Recently, once the 1 World Trade Center in New York City is completed, another heated argument surfaces. Some claims that it is US tallest building but some said it’s Willis Tower. Many don’t see the antennae-like, awkward-designed and out-of-proportion spire on top of 1WTC as the key architectural element of the building. I too stand in that opinion. However, CTBUH has approved to have the spire as part of its architectural component in measuring its building height to the architectural top.

Increasing a building’s height with poor design is a big NO for me. Putting in a huge spire that is not proportionate to the overall building is a bad decision too. On the other hand, I do think it is necessary to have vanity height (non-usable height) to ‘complete’ a skyscraper especially when it is a tapering design on certain occasions. This issue actually leaves up a lot of questions and is open for multiple discussions.

Nevertheless, what’s important is that ‘the architects shouldn’t be arguing over which building is taller, but rather which building is better.’ 

Reference:

http://www.archdaily.com/548829/in-defense-of-rewarding-vanity-height

http://www.archdaily.com/881090/the-10-different-ways-to-measure-a-skyscrapers-height

(Images in this post are from the two sources listed above)

 

 

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5 Architects That I Admire.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2017 by vincentloy

There are quite a number of popular and successful architects out there across the world. They made their names well known in the architectural industry due to their incredible design projects that won them multiple recognition and awards worldwide. They may be popular also due to certain iconic design styles or expressions they possess that sparks a new wave in architectural applications. Out of all, I consistently pay close attention to 5 of them. Who are they? Here below I list down the 5 architects that I admire with my favourite three projects of theirs respectively.

Mies Van Der Rohe

  • One of the four Fathers of Modern Architecture
  • “Less is more.” & “God is in the details.”
  • Favourite project 1: Barcelona Pavilion.

  • Favourite project 2: Farnsworth House.

  • Favourite project 3: Seagram Building.

Zaha Hadid

  • First female Pritzker Prize winner
  • Queen of the curves – fluidity of geometry
  • Favourite project 1: Guangzhou Opera House

  • Favourite project 2: Heydar Aliyev Center

  • Favourite project 3: Port Authority Building, Antwerp

Adrian Smith

  • Master in Skyscrapers, architect for current world’s tallest building; Burj Khalifa
  • Recipient of CTBUH Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Favourite project 1: Jin Mao Tower

  • Favourite project 2: Pearl River Tower

  • Favourite project 3: Jeddah Tower (future tallest in the world)

Bjarke Ingels

  • Defier of traditional architectural conventions or dimensions
  • Innovator of the Year in architecture by Wall Street Journal
  • Favourite project 1: Via 57 West

  • Favourite project 2: 8 House

  • Favourite project 3: Mountain Dwellings

Ole Scheeren

  • Rising star architect
  • Architect of multiple iconic projects across the world
  • Favourite project 1: The Interlace

  • Favourite project 2: CCTV Headquarters Building

  • Favourite project 3: Mahanakhon Tower

Trivia: The next 5 architects that I admire are Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli, I.M. Pei and Tadao Ando.

What about you? Who are your favourite architects?

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

One almost done, one has half way to go, and one is still on ground. Updates on three supertall construction projects in Kuala Lumpur.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2017 by vincentloy

Kuala Lumpur is ranked among one of the best city skylines in the world. It gained such recognition due to its splendid array of clustered buildings topped with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. However, the city skyline is going to further transform, thanks to the many new skyscrapers currently being built in the city. They are going to immensely impact the city skyline due to their enormous heights. The city won’t look the same after every few years and I look forward to see more tall and nice-looking buildings being constructed in the city.

Here are the 3 supertall skyscraper projects in Kuala Lumpur that are receiving high attention and shown together are their latest construction images. Render is shown for each project below too. Supertall building refers to a building that exceeds 300 metres in height.

1.Four Seasons Place. 

It is a 65-storeys mixed use tower currently under construction besides the Petronas Twin Towers. Once completed, it will have a final height of 343 metres. It will contain a hotel, serviced residences and a shopping mall at the podium. After undergoing multiple delays and design changes in the past, the tower has now finally rising quickly. It has structurally topped out not long ago and the work on the building’s crown has started. It will top out architecturally before last quarter of the year and will open next year. Once completed, it will be the third tallest building in the country, right after the two twin towers that sat beside it. Now, it has already made the twin towers to look not as tall as in the past eventhough it is still shorter than them by a little over 100 metres.

 

This one is ALMOST DONE.

2. TRX Exchange 106 Tower. 

It is a 106-storeys office tower currently under construction at the Tun Razak Exchange site. Once completed, this new region will become the financial hub of the city. Once completed, the tower will have a final height of 452 metres. It surprisingly will have the same height as the Petronas Twin Towers. You may wonder that it should be taller than the twin towers since it almost has over 20 floors more than the twin towers? Nope. It’s because this TRX Tower has no spire to add up to its height. The construction for this tower is very fast and it has now already half way to its top. It has now already making a huge impact to the city’s skyline. The highlight of the tower will be its crystalline crown.

This one is HALF WAY TO FINISH.

3. PNB118 Merdeka Tower.

It is a 118-storeys office tower currently under construction on the lot bordering the historical Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur. It is just right opposite my former secondary school, the Methodist Boys School KL. Once completed, it will be the tallest building in the country as well as among the top five tallest buildings in the world at a height of 644 metres. It will surpass the height of Shanghai Tower (632 metres), One World Trade Center (541 metres), Taipei 101 (508 metres) and many other skyscrapers across the world. However, its construction has been very slow and I read a news somewhere that it experienced problem with its foundation. I predict that it will be completed by 2020 or 2021. It will reach this immense height of over 600 metres due to its very long spire at the top.

 

This one is still not rising and is STILL ON GROUND WORK.

Hoping to see great progress from these skyscraper projects once I’m back to KL end of this year.

(Images in this post are from skyscrapercity.com forum webpages)

I.M. Pei, an architect who had just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2017 by vincentloy

I.M.Pei, a renowned Chinese-American architect has just turned 100 years old few days ago. A lot of major architecture websites do share news of his centenary birthday and a glimpse of his architectural projects under his career that spanned over six decades. He defied the typical saying that ‘architect do dies early due to the stress, heavy workload and constantly being all-nighter’.

Born on 26th April 1917 in Guangzhou, China, I.M.Pei moved to USA and studied architecture in University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Graduate School of Design. He was inspired by works by Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer during his years in architectural education. He was particular fascinated by modern architecture and International Style.

I.M.Pei’s design style is described as modernist with significant cubist themes. He is known for combining traditional architectural elements with progressive designs based on simple geometric patterns. He has designed over 70 projects across the world and has received multiple awards and honors such as the Pritzker Prize (known as Nobel Prize of architecture) in 1983, AIA Gold Medal in 1979, Royal Gold Medal in 2010, Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, etc.

Here below are 10 of his most iconic works:

131 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, USA (1949) – I.M.Pei’s first project.

Luce Memorial Chapel, Taichung, Taiwan (1963)

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, USA (1973)

OCBC Centre, Singapore (1976)

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston, USA (1979)

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, China (1989)

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, USA (1989)

Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France (1993)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, USA (1995)

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar (2008)

Looking just at 10 of his works above, you will obviously notice that he applied strong geometrical shapes into his design. It has become his signature approach in architecture. He designed a variety of projects ranging from community centers to highrise towers. He is no doubt one of the greatest living architects of our generation.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Top 10 Tallest Buildings in the World (as of April 2017)

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2017 by vincentloy

The two cities that witness the birth of skyscrapers are Chicago and New York City in United States. That was over a hundred years ago after the introduction of steel framed construction and passenger elevator that enables buildings to be built much taller. Now in 2017, only one building in United States that is placed within the top 10 tallest buildings in the world currently. The other 9 are generally all located in Asia. Here below is the current top 10 tallest buildings in the world as of April 2017. The list only includes completed buildings and does not include television towers, observation towers, masts, antennas or buildings with very little percentage of habitable floors.

  1. Burj Khalifa, 828 metres, 163 floors, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (completed in 2010).

2. Shanghai Tower, 632 metres, 128 floors, Shanghai, China (completed in 2015).

3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower, 601 metres, 120 floors, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (completed in 2012).

4. Ping An Finance Center, 599 metres, 115 floors, Shenzhen, China (completed in 2017).

5. Lotte World Tower, 555 metres, 123 floors, Seoul, South Korea (completed in 2017).

6. One World Trade Center, 541 metres, 104 floors, New York City, United States (completed in 2014).

7. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, 530 metres, 111 floors, Guangzhou, China (completed in 2016).

8. Taipei 101, 508 metres, 101 floors, Taipei, Taiwan (completed in 2004).

9. Shanghai World Financial Center, 492 metres, 101 floors, Shanghai, China (completed in 2008).

10. International Commerce Centre, 484 metres, 108 floors, Hong Kong, China (completed in 2010).

This list will change drastically from year to year due to rapid increase of construction of supertall skyscrapers in the world in recent decade. More and more new buildings are reaching further to the sky. Out of the current top 10 tallest buildings in the world, half of them are in China (this doesn’t even include Taipei 101 in Taiwan). 8 of them soar above 500 metres in height respectively too. Also noted is that every buildings in this top 10 tallest list has over 100 floors respectively. The tallest in the world, Burj Khalifa has been on the top of the list for over 7 years now. By 2020, it is expected to be defeated by Kingdom Tower, a skyscraper currently under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That tower is projected to soar above 1000 metres (1 km!) when completed in 2020.

The oldest supertall in this list is Taipei 101 which is only 13 years old by now as it is built in 2004. More and more new buildings are joining the list with two newcomers this year; Ping An Finance Center and Lotte World Tower at No.4 and No.5 placing respectively. Former world’s tallest buildings and still the current world’s tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers are kicked out of the top 10 list this year as they are now placed at No.11 (and 12) with height of 452 metres. Too bad…my home coutry’s famous twin towers are now out of the ranking. Anyway, in few years to come, Malaysia will have another new supertall; PNB 118 Tower that will certainly join this top 10 list with a height of over 600 metres.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Dwells into some architectural issues and topics recently.

Posted in Architectural Territory on April 1, 2017 by vincentloy

Week 5 of the semester is gone. Another 10 weeks to go roughly before it ends. Long way to go. It looks like in this semester, I’m having this habit of counting down how many weeks left in a blog post whenever a weekend arrives. I have been using up my brain to the maximum capacity recently to think deep on my thesis proposal as well as for my design studio’s project. By the end of this semester, I would have grown a lot of white hair. I can’t seem to stop thinking and worrying about them. Perhaps, I should listen to one of my tutors’ advice which is to chill until Week 10 and only start pressuring myself from that week onward. Haha…obviously, I can’t do that.

My design project for this semester’s studio is actually quite interesting. I am tasked to design a new School of Built Environment on a site proposed as part of the future development of my current campus. If you are studying architecture in Curtin University’s Bentley campus, you would know how terrible and old our current architecture building is. It’s a good move to relocate the school to a new facility. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to enjoy learning in a new building as I would have graduated by the time this project is truly realized. Designing a new building that we often get associated to! Sounds fun! It would be much better if my brain can work out some crazy and creative ideas for my design.

As for my thesis proposal, I have fixed my subject of research from Week 1 already. However, I’m having difficulties narrowing it down to a certain area for me to research and challenge on. I sort of having some ideas but there’s just too many things going on in my mind right now. My subject of research is on skyscraper, a subject that I’m very fond of (you will know it if you have been following my blog for a long time). And my area is on how to get a skyscraper to be socially vibrant within the inhabitants themselves and also to its surrounding urban environment. Skyscraper is usually regarded as a building typology where social interaction is minimal and is disconnected to the rest of the city it is located in. I wish to challenge it by reinventing high-rise to be a socially activated place. I summarize it up to Skyscraper + Social = Vertical Neighborhood. I hope my thesis supervisor will be enthusiastic to my topic and will guide me well to the end of this year for my final semester’s thesis submission. I’m hoping to have fun on my thesis too. People are building skyscrapers everywhere in the world now. It’s a trend and I wish my research here will be helpful for my future career too. I’m looking to be a future ‘skyscraper specialist’. haha…

(Image above is from Romain Jacquet)

Recently, I came across a viral news of an architecture office proposing for a concept of a suspended skyscraper. It is a very tall building not sitting on the Earth, but on the asteroid that floats and orbits around the Earth. The idea is very cool and this news becomes viral in these few days. But of course, there would be multitude of challenges to make this happen. It may work, but many things need to be resolved. But for right now, it just opens up our mind of what skyscrapers can do in the future besides than just getting taller and taller. See the suspended skyscraper’s concept below:

And ohh yeah…we have came into a new month. It’s April now! It’s April Fools Day! Time to prank your friends for a fun day!

Pritzker Prize 2017 Winner: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta (RCR Arquitectes)

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2017 by vincentloy

The recipient of this year’s Pritzker Prize, the world’s most prestigious honour to architect, is a little less known. The recipient goes to not only a single person this year, but three, who works under one office; RCR Architects. They are Rafael Arana, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta. Well, it’s not about popularity and the ‘star’ appeal to win this honour. It’s about one’s significant contribution to the field of architecture to be able to receive this award.

Here are an article from Dezeen (original source: https://www.dezeen.com/2017/03/01/key-projects-pritzker-prize-laureates-rcr-arquitectes/) that introduces us to this award-winning architecture office, RCR Arquitectes:

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Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta all studied at the School of Architecture in Vallès, and set up their practice in their home town of Olot, Catalonia, in 1988. Their work ranges from public and private spaces to cultural venues and educational institutions, each designed to closely relate to the environment of its site. The three architects started working locally, designing an athletics track for the town in 2000 before creating their own office in an old foundry there eight years later. RCR Arquitectes’ other projects in Olot include a private house and a restaurant.

Many more of the studio’s projects over the past 10 years have also been located in Spain’s Girona province, ranging from a winery to a kindergarten and a public theatre. Later the firm began building slightly further afield – completing an art centre and a museum in France in 2014. Often collaborating with other architects, the trio uses materials like recycled steel and plastic. The Pritzker jury described their projects as “beautiful and poetic”. “Each building designed by these architects is special and is uncompromising of its time and place,” said the jury citation. “Their works are always the fruit of true collaboration and at the service of the community.” “They understand that architecture and its surroundings are intimately intertwined and know that the choice of materials and the craft of building are powerful tools for creating lasting and meaningful spaces.”

See 10 key projects by RCR Arquitectes below, in roughly chronological order:

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Tossols-Basil Athletics Track, 2000, Olot, Girona, Spain

Looping through two clearings in an oak forest, the running track avoids the trees and is coloured green to blend with its surroundings. The natural topography of the site provides stands for spectators, while a small pavilion comprising two Corten steel volumes includes a bar and storage for the football field.

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Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain

A descending pathway with angled steel sides funnels visitors down from opposite directions to the entrance of the winery. Once inside, the material also creates a vaulted ceiling over the wine production machinery and barrel storage areas, where gaps in the roof allow slithers of light into the underground spaces.

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Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain

Situated in Barcelona’s dense Eixample district, this cultural venue was intended to break the continuity of its historic street. A bridging section of the front building – which houses the library – provides public access underneath to a courtyard behind, where a low-slung volume wraps around the edge.

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Barberí Laboratory, 2008, Olot, Girona, Spain

RCR Arquitectes transformed a former foundry in their home town into their own offices and studio. Elements of the original building, like crumbling walls and a steel structure, were preserved. They were then paired with huge expanses of glass to create light-filled workspaces.

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El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain
In collaboration with Joan Puigcorbé

Gradients of colourful plastic create a rainbow effect across this kindergarten building. A courtyard at the centre lets children play outside in a protected environment, while the plastic allows coloured light to flood the spaces inside.

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La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain
In collaboration with Joan Puigcorbé

To form a covered public space for theatre productions, the architects built a slatted-steel box, with angled sides and open ends, over a plaza sandwiched between two old structures. The volume faces a river and is connected to the opposite bank via a bridge made from the same material.

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Les Cols Restaurant Marquee, 2011, Olot, Girona, Spain

Swooping over this restaurant is a lightweight structure made from thin metal pipes, with translucent plastic stretched across the top. The canopy evokes the experience of dining al fresco, and extends beyond the enclosed space to protect those who are actually eating outside.

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Row House, 2012, Olot, Girona, Spain

When renovating this house in their home town, the architects exposed the underside of its tiled roof and concealed circulation on either side behind thin vertical louvres. In the central space – illuminated by a giant glass wall at the back – contemporary insertions form a sunken kitchen and dining level, with two separate mezzanines for lounging and sleeping above.

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La Cuisine Art Center, 2014, Nègrepelisse, France

Tucked inside the stone walls of a historic chateau, rooms made from steel and glass wrap around three sides of the building’s internal perimeter. These spaces host exhibitions, conferences and workshops dedicated to the art and design of food and cooking, and face a central courtyard that is used for larger events.

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Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France
In collaboration with G Trégouët

Contemporary art exhibitions are housed within weathering-steel boxes that cantilever slightly from a small slope. The galleries are linked by glazed corridors and bridges, forming a route through the museum.

After receiving this prestigious honour, this Spanish firm along with these three leading architects shot to fame immediately in world of architecture.

(Images and information in this post are from the following source (also stated earlier): https://www.dezeen.com/2017/03/01/key-projects-pritzker-prize-laureates-rcr-arquitectes/.)