The Skyscraper as Social Organism

Ole Scheeren
Buro Ole Scheeren, Beijing

As hyper-growth increasingly calls for high-density living and working, we need to rethink the skyscraper, not as a hermetic, isolated landmark, but as a building that responds to the specificities of its urban and social context. Rather than reinforcing stratification and hierarchical systems, the skyscraper needs to go beyond vertical dominance and explore spatial qualities that allow for greater social interaction and cohesion. Looking back at 20 years of exploration of alternative models for the skyscraper, this presentation examines four projects of the past (now realized) and four projects of the future (current state of planning and development), through four overarching topics relevant to tall buildings and the future of our cities:

ORGANISM - How to understand the skyscraper as an organic life-form (not just built matter) and explore organizational structures of functional yet socially interconnected entities? SCALE - How we can reconnect the scale of the skyscraper to that of the human being? CONTEXT - How can the skyscraper go beyond being a self-referential singularity and re-establish context and cohesion as an inclusive urban system? HORIZONTALITY - How can a skyscraper (sometimes) be no longer a skyscraper… and can how it can become a construct of spatial and social connectivity? VERTICALITY - How can a skyscraper create a space of three-dimensional engagement within (or against) its vertical pre-determination. RE-USE - How can existing substance be re-imagined to breathe new life into (sometimes) old cities? FANTASY - How can a skyscraper can become a space of exploration and memory, and engage our fantasy and imagination? CLOUD – How can we turn the skyscraper into a collaborative world of physical (and digital) connectivity and social exchange?

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation