There’s a creepy transformation taking over our cities, says architecture critic Justin Davidson. From Houston, Texas to Guangzhou, China, shiny towers of concrete and steel covered with glass are cropping up like an invasive species.
“That person sitting right next to you might have the most idiosyncratic inner life, but you don’t have a clue because we’re all wearing the same expression. That is the kind of creepy transformation that is taking over cities.”
Shiny, bland and homogenous. These characteristics are increasingly encapsulating the nature and identity of our cities through the use of glass as a dominant building material, says Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Justin Davidson. In this TED Talk, Davidson stresses the importance of the use of a varied palette of materials that evoke texture, color, roughness, and shadow, in order to create architecture of individuality and character to define and populate the world’s cities. The rapid growth of glassy skylines, which express a disdain for communal urban interaction, can be curbed through a combination of new and old building and material techniques, creating architecture that absorbs history and memory as a reflection of the diverse society it lives in.
Video via: TED.
Professor Alan Short of the University of Cambridge has published a book advocating for the revival of 19th-century architectural ideas to address the crippling energy use of modern skyscrapers. The Recovery of Natural Environments in Architecture proposes an end to the architectural fetish for glass, steel, and air conditioning, instead drawing inspiration from forgotten techniques in naturally ventilated buildings of the 1800s.
Have you been experiencing motion sickness, depression, sleepiness, and even fear, as you gaze out of your window from the 44 th floor? If so, you may be prone to “Sick Building Syndrome” – the informal term for side effects caused by swaying skyscrapers, according to experts at the Universities of Bath and Exeter, who are launching a £7 million ($8.6 million) study into their causes and prevention through testing simulations.
In a recent TED Talk, architect Siamak Hariri takes the audience inside his design process for the Bahá’í Temple of South America. Responding to an open call in 2003 to design the last of the faith’s continental temples in Santiago, Chile, Hariri recalls a moment as a student at Yale when he learned about the transcendent power of architecture, a moment he tried to recreate in the twelve-year project.