Human attraction to verticality has always been evident. And since the Everest highest peak has already been conquered, every month thousands of engeneers and architects work on a ultimate skyscraper destined to become the new super tallest tower of the world. But traditional vertigo architecture could be doomed by a new frontier: vertical urban planning.
“Because, beside the show-off, super tall buildings don’t work” Says to ArchiPanic Marcos De Andres of AMBS Architecture, the studio that is working on the first vertical city on earth.
Many cities seem to crave for archistars’ skyscrapers as much as a fashion addict would die for a Gucci bag. The effect of such desire generally takes the shape of concrete, glass and steel erections that penetrate the clouds rather then scraping them.
So far the highest building is Dubai Burj Khalifa designed by Adrian Smith. The 829 m high bespoke tower completed in 2009 was about to be surpassed by The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. But construction workers didn’t even have the time to complete the 20th floor of the 1 km high skyscraper that The Bride by AMBS Architects conquered the sky with 1.152 metres.
The Bride is not just a fancy super tower showing off its extreme features, but a proper vertical city. The project for Basra region in Iraq offers a deeper reflection on the future on sky scraping.
Let’s step back to the not-anymore ultimate skyscraper. In 2019, The Kingdom Tower, by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, will rise for over 1.000 metres hosting offices, retail and and luxury apartments.
At the base a three-petal shaped structure enhances the skyscraper’s slender, subtly asymmetrical massing. The narrowing three-sided silhouette is designed to fight wind and gravity. If clouds allow it, at level 157 a sky-terrace offers a breath taking view on Jeddah.
“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia” said Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill who masterplanned also the surrounding 23-hectare waterfront district by the Red Sea.
In the meantime, Casablanca is about to host Africa tallest building designed by French studio Valode & Pistre. The Al Noor Tower (Tower of Light, in Arabic) will rise for 540 metres to refer the 54 countries of the continent whilst the 114 floors match the surahs of the Koran. On the facades graphic patterns represent the 1.000 languages of the continent. Africa ultimate skyscraper could eventually change name if Morocco’s King fancied to have it dedicated to himself.
On the top of the building, two pinnacles seem to pinch the sun. “Al Noor Tower will not be only the landmark of Morocco but a symbol for all Africa” it says on the project website. Many the critics about the project, including the ones that underline an ominous similarity with the Sauron Tower designed for Peter Jackson’s movie The Lord of the Rings.
But what is pushing humanity to tag the sky? There’s more than it meets the eye. Few days ago, AMBS Architecture announced the ultimate T-Rex of contemporary architecture: The Bride, a mastodontic construction in Basra region, Southern Iraq.
The 1.152 metres high project features four conjoined towers and a large canopy cloaking a 600.000 sqm district. But in this case figures are not a real issue. The Bride is not a supertower but the vertical master plan for the first vertical sustainable city in the world.
Indeed, the new project could “relegate super tall towers as a thing of the past” say at AMBS Architecture. “Supertall towers don’t work. Above the 600 m mark they become very deep an inefficient at the base and very thin and unusable at the top. The latter has only one purpose, the show” says founding director Marcos De Andres to ArchiPanic.
The project was commissioned and approved by the local governorate to maximize urban capacity vertically rather than outward. As a city The Bride won’t just host fancy retail and luxury apartments but it will be open and accessible to everybody and will feature also sky gardens and sky squares.
The project is planned to use as much energy as it consumes. No start date for construction has been set. In the meantime, we can watch all other skyscrapers’ construction sites where escavators keep digging deeper and deeper.