Environmental Contextualism

Ross Wimer
Senior Vice President
AECOM, Los Angeles

Through a series of projects, the objective has been to explore the possibility of establishing a new sort of contextual relationship between an architecture and its surroundings. This manifests itself in architecture that performs optimally in its environment, resulting in a project that exposes the salient characteristics of the site. Its formal compatibility is a result of context-derived environmental strategies. To quote Robert Smithson, “The investigation of a specific site is a matter of extracting concepts out of existing sense-data through direct perceptions. One does not impose, but rather exposes the site.”

Although the programmatic vehicles for these explorations have ranged in scale and complexity from master plans and airports to bridges and streetlights, in this presentation, the focus is on three towers sited in three different cities. Sydney, Australia; Bogota, Colombia and Kunming, China all present different environmental challenges. The resulting materiality, form and articulation for each tower is unique and has been tuned to its environment. To truly meet the challenge of zero energy or carbon neutrality, especially for a tower, the environment is critically important. An advantage of each of the three cities is that they all feature relatively dry air and a relatively small range of temperature variation. Also, these cities experience low wind speeds and consistent sun exposure throughout the year. Each tower design has a distinct appearance, derived from a unique response to its climate, and, once built, will have close to a zero-carbon footprint.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation