Tuesday, December 22, 2009

High Rise Issues - celebrate

Friday 11th, we had the final HRI presentations of the case studies, and a party with beer from Phil and DNC and cakes from Mrs NC and Nu. So, Tall Buildings can be something to celebrate, too!
Photo by Paul Jozsa 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

End of Term: all for a white Xmas?

Dec 11th: Well we have reached the end of term and had a crit on Weds December 9th with guest visits from Antony Wood (Chicago), Ivan Jovanovic (BDSP), Sabina Fazlic (Cardiff /B'ham) and Matthew Wells (Techniker). This was the last event before the vacation, and each group had 40 mins with the tutor group - thoroughly checking and discussing the designs and ideas. We had a number of tutorials on Thursday afterwards to clear up any remaining problems before the vacation. It has all been very encouraging, everybody has a scheme, and we are looking forward to seeing how they develop over the vacation.
All photos from David Nicholson-Cole's iPhone.

Ivan and Antony considering the mysteries of Mumbai

Matthew, Sabina and Phil studying Abu Dhabi

Antony and Ivan in Mumbai again...

Antony thinking about Chicago

Phil and Antony looking serious about Abu Dhabi...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catching up on the Blog

We have fallen behind timewise with the blog, so I will post some articles to bring us up to date. We have had great progress with the main Tall Buildings design project, and also with High Rise Issues and with the Architectural Research Methods module.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Site Study and Agenda Presentations

Oct 29: Today saw all the groups present their initial site study research for their sites in Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Mumbai, Rotterdam and Singapore. Recognising that tall buildings have a physical relationship with places far and wide in a city, the research embraced both the local (e.g. the areas directly surrounding the sites), the intermediate, and the city as a whole. The research examined not only the climatic and contextual nature of the sites, but also the cultural aspects of place - what makes the city special? What are the opportunities in the city? What are the problems in the city? How do people live in the city? Etc...

In addition, students also presented an 'agenda' for their tall building design - an outline of it's responsibilities and how it will make a positive impact on the site and city. The agendas are directly influenced by the site studies and the unique nature of each city. With ideas ranging from solar desalination to farming and fitness, from religion and festival to prefabrication, the designs that evolve from these initial studies over the following weeks look set to both excite, and challenge the preconceptions of the tall building.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ARM in discussion about Major Threats

Mon 26 Oct and 2 Nov: The ARM group are looking at major threats facing the human race on this planet.... it's like excavating to the bottom-most layer of an archeology site... before you understand what's above. We will move on from there to look at density and densification studies for cities, and from there to discuss the type of tall or dense architecture required for 21st century living.

For the time being, the students have been looking at 4 major threats :
  1. Peak Oil (the Olduvai theory) whereby the rapid energy descent that may occur after 2020 could mean more than not being able to drive to ASDA. It could bring about social disorder, major conflict, or wars, disastrous effects on employment and living patterns and force the need to densify cities more than any other.
  2. Climate Change whereby we may see rising sea levels and extreme drought+floods, forcing some cities or even the population of entire countries having to reconsider their position. Climate change can no longer be met by old methods, such as turning up the aircon or mass migration.
  3. Rising Population, and increasing imbalance in populations; in some cases too many elderly eg China, Japan, or too many young, eg developing countries, or too much migration in a one way direction, eg rural to urban, or from drought regions to temperate.
  4. Water becoming increasingly difficult to conserve and manage and distribute, balancing between the needs of agriculture and industry, as against the needs of the population for well being and survival. Some needs can no longer be met in the old ways (dams or desalination) as these require collossal amounts of energy that we will no longer have.
Somehow, in their future careers, the students will have to lead the way to a better way of designing cities and buildings.
The Students presented their findings on Oil, climate and Water on 2 Nov and will present the Population threat on 9 Nov.
Picture above, the students consider Water resources, smiling for the camera, but worried about the future.

Tall Buildings against & for... and Master Planning

Fri Oct 23: was a very busy day. Phil gave a major lecture in the morning, going through the disadvantages and advantages of tall buildings, in comprehensive detail (the pdf is on the Web CT). This was attended by some of the ARM group too.

Later in the afternoon we had a visit from David Leonard, an architect-master-planner who has some wonderful work to show. Amazingly (for one so accomplished) David has his main residence in Nottingham, so is easy to get hold of. He had already been to London and back that same day! In the lecture, attended by about 60-70 students, he discussed the main criteria for effective master planning, and went on to show the major mixed use project in Stratford, London. It has many architects for the component buildings, and many official and community bodies who all have to interact in the process.

View Larger Map
The site shows blank on Googlemaps, but the project is on site, well progressed with construction, as part of the Olympic build up.
David showed a new project he is working on in Sharjah where an earlier over ambitious plan of towers has been shelved and he is restarting the project with more intelligent phasing, and economic flexibility. This was just the sort of thing our students needed to inspire them for the TBI project. He then spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the ideas of each of the five main groups, giving them feedback.
See the Convenor's Blog on the Web CT site for a more detailed feedback on the tutorials and David's comments.

Tutorials on 22nd Oct

Oct 22: We had a full day of tutorials, starting with a presentation from each of the main groups - they were not doing a full presentation, just telling us the progress in their research so far. Later, we had an hour with each group, discussing their sites in more detail, and what could be done with them. Phil did a quick presentation of examples of previous studies, in particular the idea of the buildings having an 'agenda' or 'big idea' that is additional to their brief. (apologies for not having a photograph).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ARM introduce their Cities!

Oct 19: We had an interesting morning in the ARM (Arch Research Method) module. The students were introducing their cities of origin, in terms of the criteria relevant to our debate - area, climate, population, zoning, relation to sea or river or mountains, typical housing forms in different locations, growth rings over the decades, etc. Very enjoyable.
We covered Shenzen, Hong Kong, London, Beijing, Dubai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Tehran, Hangzhou, Santiago, Warwickshire (rural), Pune, Isfahan and Calcutta. Apologies to Shanghai, Wuxi, Birmingham and Wolverhampton because we had to stay within 2 hours.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Structural Experimentation

We had a great morning seeing the work of the 3D structures week. We had models in straws and string, lolly sticks, ballpoint pens (with the ink tubes as joints), fishing line, copper wire, kebab sticks, playing cards, and more. We had one group using 'Bucky Balls' a kit of plastic rods and balls for exploring geodesic structures.
One tower was constructed upside down, Gaudi style, using metal armature and modroc to pad our the armature, with a movie to record the process. We also had a Tensegrity structure.

We were impressed with the work, the creativity, dedication to discovery, and the craftsmanship - and the humour in some of the choices of material. And it wasn't just about building for fun - there was some serious looking at precedents and principles, and lessons that could be learnt from the structures. The posters will be put up on webct soon.

The afternoon was spent with preliminary discussion of the sites in the 5 cities, and the tasks for the coming week, such as modelling.

Above,  model is in Modroc and wire, and was built upside down in true Gaudi tradition, by Pranali, David and Mat.

The one below includes the Bic pen and kebabstick models, with Minh, Laila, Lily, Mel, Arash, Arham and Ackshay. 
Below is the Lollystick model with Katy, Chris, Savita and Rain. Great work!

Monday, October 12, 2009

History as it is talled

Oct 11: Phil Oldfield delivered a lecture on the early history of Tall Buildings, from mid 19th century to the late 1980s.
This is useful because so many students doing dissertations on tall building topics have to do the same 'trawl' through the early history in their introductions. We felt that we should lay down some shared information, ideas and dates.
Phil followed it up a week later (Oct 18) with a highly informative lecture on Tall Building design thinking, particularly in planning, cores and elevators.
(illustration shows some of the entries for the Chicago Tribune competition)

ARM module under way!

12 Oct: We held the first Architectural Research Methods workshop meeting on Monday, in the Marmont. DNC presented a powerpoint on the prime topic, that of the future of urban settlements in 50 years time, the role of densification in our present settlements, and the validity of tall buildings (and many other factors) in determining our urban survival.
The workshop was organised into 4 groups, the CitiMix, Leaf group, High Risers and Blankety Blank. Each group has a balanced mixture of Indian, Chinese, and Brit students, with a few others mixed in.
For the first week and a bit, the groups will be doing studies of their own cities and regions, in the light of the criteria for our study: area, density, population, transport, climate, employment trends etc. They will also look for interesting overlaps and connections, eg if Beijing and Mumbai are discussed within the same group.
(The illustration is a reference to how people 50 yrs ago saw the present age of 2010. Our group are asked to look another fifty years in the other direction, to 2060, but in the light of climate change and the end of oil.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spaghetti, wire, dowels, string and what next?

Thurs 8th Oct: We held a briefing for the next stage which is to explore some real model making. This was first tried as a 2-day exercise in 2004 with Mario Cucinella, using spaghetti for the structures and tomatoes for the loads - very Italian!

This year, we are doing it over a week, and asking them not to be excessive in height but to excel in level of research, experiment and analysis - using a material of their choice - straws, garden wire, cocktail sticks, ballpoint pens, dowels, spaghetti, Bucky Balls, A4 paper. The object is to explore concepts of stiffness and flexibility, bracing, stability, efficiency. We also hope some will explore tensegrity, and suspended structures (such as Antoni Gaudi's chain structures).
Illustration from the 2004 exercise.

Presentations about London

Oct 8th: Each of the groups, Red Star, Cloud Nine, Team 309, Future Scrape and Studio A did an hour's presentation about their London experience, plus a bit more.

Some included comparisons between London and Shanghai, some did more detailed case studies on key buildings seen during the walk, some examined space and landscaping around tall buildings, some did facades, entrances, sustainability strategies. Some looked at interesting juxtapositions such as Old-New, Large-small, some looked at vistas and sightlines, some at Transport connections, London climate and population, and some at History and Context - and other topics were covered too.

All very interesting and a great way for the groups to get used to working together. More importantly, it is a sort of dry run for what they need to do a lot better on cities that they have not actually visited and cannot visit, namely, Chicago, Rotterdam, Mumbai, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

Monday, October 5, 2009

TB Workshop for Architectural Research Methods

Oct 5th: We offered our workshop for the ARM module today to a packed room - seems like over 200 - of combined Diploma, Masters and Architectural Studies students.
This diagram, by Norman and Kenworthy 1989 sums up a powerful urbanistic argument, which shows up the link between energy consumption and density. The workshop will use a variety of methods (mapping, survey etc) to explore this hypothesis further, and explore the case for 'working' tall buildings for future urban environments.
By the way, the position of New York in the curve seems odd - but this is talking about greater New York in 1980. Once you include the boroughs surrounding New York you rapidly get into lower density areas.

Friday, October 2, 2009

London welcomes Tall Building designers!

We had a field trip to London 1st October. Starting at the Building Centre (Store St), we saw the Model of London, plus some good contemporary exhibition material. We moved on to London Bridge for a long walkabout that took the rest of the day, finishing at Moorgate, next to the Barbican.

From London Bridge, we followed the Embankment east, seeing the Cotton Centre atrium, Hays Galleria, HMS Belfast, and the GLA buildings. The conference chamber building is open to the public, so we entered, and climbed the spiral ramp inside.
Later, we crossed Tower bridge, and passing the Tower of London, walked up to Aldgate and St Botolphs. We had lunch in the Swiss Re cafe. Later, visited the Heron tower, and passed Tower 42 and the Pinnacle site. Had a good look at Lloyds and Willis, and the rather sad empty Leadenhall tower site. We then moved north to Liverpool Station (after getting slightly lost) and saw the SOM buildings of Broadgate Tower and Exchange Square. We made it to Moorgate and the rendezvous with the bus slightly too late to see Wood St and Barbican... but better luck next time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Broadway Malyan's help in Singapore

Singapore is a large thriving city-state with a lot of development and redevelopment, and it is difficult for us from a distance to know the details of potential sites, as so many can be found on Googlemaps.

Our dear friend Jason Pomeroy of Broadway Malyan's office in Gateway East, Singapore has identified an excellent site on Beach Rd, right next to an MRT station that is under construction. This is scheduled for a mixed use development, and is just what we would like. Jason is sending more photos soon. Jason has been a regular visitor to our design studio (managing to fit in a visit to Nottingham when he comes to England), and delivers a special lectures on skycourts, civic spaces in the sky - wonderful stuff!

I am very happy that this meets our criteria for a good site - and it encourages the preservation of the ground plane, so we will need a good groundscraper to serve whatever goes up into the sky.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Briefing for the module, London and ARM

The Date for Briefing is now Wednesday 30th October at 3pm in the Marmont Lecture Theatre, soon to become Marmont Workspace.

Note that the Field course in London leaves from the Cripps Hill/Lenton Hall Drive junction at 8am on Thurs 1st October.

We have also decided that the ARM (Architectural Research Methods) workshops will take place in the Marmont too, at 11am on Mondays, starting on the 12th October. (The first ARM lecture is 1300 on the 5th October in the Coates building.C24.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Presenting the Module

So twice today, Phil and DNc had to present the module - to Diploma and Masters students. The sessions went well, and there seems plenty of interest. We shall not know the exact numbers until next week, as the voting forms are not finally in until Friday.
Phil's powerpoint showed all 5 site cities, plus a glimpse of previous work. We have not met the M.Arch in Technology students, so are wondering if any of those will pick TBI. Our emphasis on the first semester is more on Urban Design aspects than on Technology, so we would be content for them to wait till second semester.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sing of Singapore!

DNC and Phil have been considering the virtues of Singapore. We have considered the inspiring examples of its urban developments, its highly organised society, and some outstanding tall buildings. It has some of the most advanced thinking on eco-design, rainwater collection, green roofs, transport, traffic, housing design etc.
Yes, chewing gum is still banned, but that does keep the streets clean!
We were going to use a site in Kuala Lumpur (capital of Malaysia) but our friends who were going to provide site information dried up. So we are looking for suitable sites in S'pore, and have friends there who could help. Our students would find it easier to get the information than from Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Visions towards 21st C Post Oil society

I don't want to sound a depressing note, so early, but really, this graph shows that Sustainability is a VERY important topic. It is about our very survival. You can see why if you view a wonderful, albeit terribly scary lecture on this very topic by Lee Morris, of WS Atkins, given at the CTBUH Dubai Congress. http://www.blip.tv/file/1118768   But have we, or the Earth itself actually gone over the tipping point? Architects can do 'this and that' with new buildings, and new ecotowns, but what about the 98% of buildings and cities that already exist?
How can the earth cope with the huge and still growing population, in a world where we can no longer accept high deathrates? This lecture deserves to be listened to in full!
This is the topic with which we will be starting the Architectural Research Methods working group.

First meeting with MArch students

We had a welcoming meeting with the M.Arch students, those who have already registered for Sustainable Tall Buildings, or those thinking of it; DNC and Phil presenting. We described the three main areas of interest: 'Urban Densification', 'Patterns of life and work with tall buildings', and 'Bioclimatic design of tall buildings', and the outline of the three semesters of the course.
This Blog, the Facebook area, Web CT and Email will be important means of communication with the groups and individuals. There are lecture courses and seminar courses such as ARM, HRI, DTM and FCT which also provide background information for the design task.
There will be a meeting on Wednesday in which people finally choose their pathway through the year, and that will finally decide how many do our course and the design project.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Eco-urbanism view of Tall Buildings

Do we really want Tall Buildings, or do we really need them?
Phil and DNC will be running a workshop in the Architectural Research Methods module. The group will study the question of ‘Densification’ as a strategy for urban sustainability. We know that Tall Buildings have higher embodied energy. Taking the longer view, into the ‘Olduvai’ post-oil era, dense cities may be more sustainable, and tall buildings can provide a large population with an urban habitat with a smaller footprint. Aside from the minority of extreme iconic structures, the majority of working tall buildings do a good job, but could do it better. The work will include mapping and statistical data, virtual modelling, and scenario building, making comparisons of high and low density urban habitats, considering embodied energy and energy consumption holistically.

If we have too many students in the workshop group, we will find other ways to avoid repetition by offering other topics, such as patterns of living and working in high-rise (with reference to past mistakes, and more recent Asian experience); Ecodesign concepts in tall buildings.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Starting in September - Sustainable Tall Buildings!

The term is about to start at the end of September and we have had most of the course planned many weeks ago. Here's a few highlights:

Phil Oldfield has arrived from Chicago and has joined the team as a full member of staff.
• We have a London field course planned in October, and a day in Manchester later in the term.

• For the first semester, we are sticking to our main plan of a 'pocket tall building' on sites in 5 different parts of the globe, where there is a need for our students to research CLIMATE, CULTURE and CONTEXT.
• The main project will start in October, before which we will do some short tall building design exercises.
• This year, the sites will be Chicago, Rotterdam, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur - all of which present interesting levels of difficulty.
• Since this is going to be almost bigger than the Olympics, cities around the globe are welcome to apply to us to be chosen in 2010 :)

• For the second semester, we will continue the project that we have successfully done for the last three years, a 'Super-Tall Bioclimatic Mixed Use skyscraper', in a capital city location - London. We have an excellent site in London, a sort of outdoor urban laboratory, on which we can test out far-out concepts such as vertical farming, algae generating towers, solar and wind experimentation, extreme density, parks in the sky, sports or educational towers and much more.
• As this course is still unique, we are exploring the means of distance learning, using webcasts, movies, pdfs, summer school, for those who cannot afford the full year of Masters course.

Yes.... this is the World's first Masters course in Sustainable Tall Buildings - starting on Monday 21st Sept!
We are starting this blog to share with our present students and tutor team, to keep in touch with the alumni of our previous Tall Buildings design studios, and to help those who might come in future to find out more of how the course progresses.

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 2009 Exhibition

June 2009: Our Exhibition in the SBE. We had a great location in the Studio building and were able to put up almost all the schemes.
(In this view, the scheme on the wall is the Trinity Arts Tower).