As building materials and technologies advance,
architects are creating new kinds of urban environments.
Among the innovations showcased in this
book that are contributing to new architectural
forms are parametric modeling enabled by computer-
aided technology, environmentally friendly
building skins, and HOPSCAs – a hybrid building
type – that can house hotels, offices, parking,
shopping, a convention center, and apartments
under one roof. The 'dream' buildings in this book
reflect a changing architectural and cultural environment,
and the processes that turn these concepts
from vision to reality will open a new chapter
in architectural history.
Many of the architects represented here are addressing
themes of developments in structural and
material technologies that will allow infinite possibilities
in form. Within the new urban landscape of
greater complexity, architects must either find appropriate
'new textures' or construct new rules.
One imaginative process demonstrated here is
the merging of nature and architecture – sometimes
through the use of natural forms, and at other
times through materials and levels of energy
consumption. A related new process, bionics – the
application of biological principles to the design of
architectural systems – has been used to streamline
buildings and simulate nature.
Yet another process at work today reflects a
continuity with Modernism in architecture in which
simple forms as well as traditional materials and
construction methods cannot disguise the elegance
of their conceptual rigor. This choice leads
to two contrasting ways to adapt: to 'exceed' or
to 'retreat'. Most of the featured projects in this
book embody the method of 'exceeding'. With
this approach, architects use height and context
to create new urban spectacles. The contrasting
strategy is to 'retreat' by creating introverted projects
that interject a built form of silence and tranquility
into the noise and chaos of the city.
We also include examples of comprehensive
projects that attempt to reply to the urban question
and suggest a future era of 'the monumental
building as city'. These immense projects can
cover several city blocks in which architects strive
to find levels of balance between city and street.
By examining the thought processes behind
these bold and innovative designs we can formulate
some essential questions: how does technology
bridge the boundaries between different countries
and cultures? Will our cities come to resemble
those in science fiction movies? Will the notion
of 'form follows environment' be the natural successor
to 'form follows function'? Although we
can’t answer these questions at present, we hope
that merely asking them might provide insights
that will shape our views and spur creativity.
Xing Rihan is a trained architect and owner
of Rihan International Culture Spread Ltd.