Contemporary Architecture

The Rotating Tower,Dubai and Suite Vollard, Curitiba – David H. Fisher

 David Fisher

The Rotating Tower,Dubai and Suite Vollard, Curitiba – David H. Fisher
  • Italian Architect based in Florence owning a design firm called “Infinity Design”
  • Honors at Faculty of Architecture in Florence University
  • Taught as faculty in the same and in structural engineering department
  • Awarded PhD Honoris causa by the Prodeo Institute at Columbia University (NY)
  • Not a traditional architect as he worked mainly in the field of construction redefining the technical and technological extremes of building
  • Involved in restoration of ancient buildings
  • Pioneer in the field of prefabrication and dynamic buildings


Since the beginning, with his involvement in “Binishells” technology, David Fisher’s design studio has developed a vision of architecture resulting from technological and economic considerations, with aesthetics being the natural output of the above.

Since the first large project, “the Marriott Aruba” , Dr. Fisher has taken part in the complete process of construction, from the feasibility study, to financing, to construction management and the  final commissioning of the project.


  • For David Fisher Architecture is the space for living and the life of the people must not be conditioned by an architect’s extravagance.
  • Infinity Design gives puts a strong focus on the flexibility of the space as life, architecture must change together with the needs of the people and the changes of the environmental conditions.


  • 3,800 B.C. – Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and buildings until now are based on gravity: stones/bricks/blocks are positioned one on top of the other.
  • 1436 – Brunelleschi designed the dome of the Cathedral of Florence.The biggest dome ever built, challenging horizontal forces.
  • 1889 – The first iron structure, the Eiffel Tower, was built in Paris . Many skyscrapers are built of bolted steel traces, based on the same technology.
  • 1905 – Reinforced concrete was created by combining cement with iron bars; most structures until now are made of reinforced concrete.
  • 2008 — Prefabrication when 90% of building (Dynamic Tower) was prefabricated including the preassembled cores

“Almost every product used today is the result of an industrial process and can be transported around the world, from cars and boats to computers and clothing. Factories are chosen for their ready access to materials, production technology, inexpensive labor, efficiency, and other conditions that result in high quality at a relatively low cost.

It is unbelievable that real estate and construction, which is the leading sector of the world economy, is also the most primitive. For example, most workers throughout the world still regularly use trowels, which were first used by the Egyptians and then by the Romans. Buildings should be no different from any other .product,. and from now on they will be manufactured in a production facility”– Dr David Fisher

“Doing buildings on site, as we do since the pyramids, is as if we were producing cars in the parking lot or an aircraft on the runway…

Our building in fact are made of preassembled units, that arrive to the site completed of all finishing, equipment, plumbing and air conditioning, ready for a fast and easy installation process.

So these buildings are feasible.

I mentioned functionality — well, also the interior partition will be flexible if they will ever exist… look how flexible is our digital part of life. . . why should we still live in a medieval castle where the wall do not let us any freedom and we can modify them when our way of life get changed.”–Dr. David Fisher


  • Dynamic Architecture buildings keep modifying their shape
  • Traditional architecture – Gravity
  • Dynamic architecture – Motion dynamics
  • A mechanical approach to civil construction – Transdisciplinary
  • Buildings will no more remain the ‘fossilized imagination’ of the architect;
  • They will change, constantly bringing new views and experiences to us with time
  • Introducing the fourth dimension in architecture : TIME

Suite Vollard:

  • The Suite Vollard is a futuristic residential building in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil.
  • This Apartment Building was Designed by a team of Architects, headed by Bruno de Franco & David Fisher
  • This building is the only one of its kind in the world, as each of the 11 apartments can rotate 360º.
  • Each apartment can spin individually in any direction. One rotation takes a full hour.
  • The apartment rings rotate around a static core used for building services, utilities, and all areas which require plumbing.
  • Each apartment was sold for approximately R$ 400,000.00 ($US 300,000.00).

The Rotating Tower:

  • 80 floors, 420 meters tall.
  • First 20 floors will be Offices.
  • Floors 21 to 35 will be a Luxury hotel,
  • Floors 36 to 70 will be Apartments.
  • While the top 10 floors will be luxury Villas.
  • Apartment sizes range from 124 sq.m to villa of size 1200 sq.m
  • It will be the first building in the World to be entirely constructed from factory made prefabricated parts.
  • These parts are being manufactured in a factory in Altamura, Italy.
  • It will require just 600 people in the assembly facility and 80 technicians on the site instead of min. 2000 workers for a similar building.•the consturction will complete by the end of this year.
  • “The Rotating Tower Of Dubai will be the First Industrial Skyscraper ever constructed. 90% of the building will be prefabricated and assembled on a central core, the only part built with traditional reinforced concrete poured on the site.”
  • “I call the non-moving buildings Tombstones……buildings should start being part of the universe, and therefore dynamic…..   How could one think that digital homes of future will be as immobile as our grandmother’s house.”

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Born in Aachen, Germany on 27 Mar. 1886
  • Trained with his father, a master stonemason
  • Worked in the family stone-carving business
  • At 19, he moved to Berlin before he joined the office of Bruno Paul in Berlin (the art nouveau architect and furniture designer)
  • At 20 he received his first independent commission,
    to plan a house for a philosopher (Alois Riehl)
  • Entered the studio of Peter beherns in 1908 and remained until 1912
  • Opened his own office in Berlin in 1912 and married in 1913


  • Dutch Architecture
    • 17th century interiors – crystal clear with precisely framed walls and openings
    • Had an inner affinity with Mies’s balancing of plane surfaces
  • Father’s Workshop
    • Correct placing of brick upon brick and stone upon stone
    • These early experiences probably the reason for his fanaticism with pure form and great care in the use of building materials
    • 1909 – Turbinen Fabrik – showed the strength of expression possessed by iron and glass
    • Could be brought out by an artist/architect who understood their possibilities
    • Also learnt careful handling of new materials, particularly in his later works
    • Free ground plan
  • Expressionist Movement
    • Art Nouveau – Gaudi’s expressionism – biomorphic and osteomorphic fantasy
    • German movement – mysticism; emotional extremes in art
    • W.W. I – economic deprivation – 1918-21 + following years
    • Almost nothing built – a world of imagination and fantasy
    • Crystalline, prismatic forms
    • Mies – 1919-21 – glass walled skyscrapers
    • Prismatic, star shaped massing to reflect light like a crystal
    • Foreshadowed his glass walled skyscrapers
  • Peter Behrens
    • 1909 – Turbinen Fabrik – showed the strength of expression possessed by iron and glass
    • Could be brought out by an artist/architect who understood their possibilities
    • Also learnt careful handling of new materials, particularly in his later works
  • F.L. Wright
    • Free ground plan


  • Studied the architecture of the  Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Frank Lloyd Wright
  • After world war I – began studying the skyscraper
  • Designed two innovative steel-framed towers
    encased in glass
  • One of them – Friedrichstrasse skyscraper, designed in 1921 for a competition
  • Never built, although it drew critical praise and foreshadowed his skyscraper designs of the late 40s and 50s


  • Less is more
  • I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good
  • Technology’s essence is the main field of architecture


General features:

  • No function other than to look worthy of the country it represents
  • Honey coloured golden onyx, green Tinian marble and frosted glass were the basic materials used
  • Had a sculpture named the German flag
  • Starting of the modern movement


General features:

  • The house is situated in the midst of meadows and trees on a large natural plot.
  • Principle of minimalism
  • Floods and insects were main problems tackled
  • A vacation residence for a doctor
  • One enters the home by climbing a low, broad set of stairs to a sparse deck, then another, similar set of stairs to the outdoor porch

CASE STUDY THREE: Seagram Building, New York, 1954-58:

General features:

  • The Seagram Building is a skyscraper in New York City
  • In collaboration with the American Philip Johnson
  • It is 516 feet tall with 38 stories
  • It stands as one of the finest examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism

“I remember seeing many old buildings in my hometown when I was young. Few of them were important buildings. They were mostly very simple, but very clear. I was impressed by the strength of these buildings because they did not belong to any epoch. They had been built there for over a thousand years and were still impressive and nothing could change that. All great styles passed, but…they were still as good as on the day they were built.”           – Mies Van Der Rohe.


General details:

  • S. R. Crown Hall is generally considered to be one of Mies’ greatest works
  • Mies considered Crown the clearest statement of his philosophy of a universal space building.
  • Crown is home to IIT’s College of Architecture; inside the building, free-standing partitions suggest spaces for studios and exhibition.
  • the building houses the architecture school
  • The wings to the east and west. It is a Upper Core is organized about an axis that runs north/south, with no Permanent partitions or formal separation of spaces. The building itself is organized on two floors, with the main floor raised about 6 feet above grade to allow natural light and ventilation into the lower level through clerestory windows.
  • creating symmetrical  single open hall
  • oak-wood partitions
  • Built of hollow clay tile, the chases are finished in plaster painted white.
  • Circulation consists of a hallway that is U-shaped in plan


  • His love for simplicity
  • Trying out innovative materials
  • Structural details
  • Spending lot of time on design
  • Glass and steel
  • Furniture details(layouts)

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Contemporary Architecture

Rem Koolhaas – CCTV HQ Beijing

The Architect

  • Born November 17, 1944 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • Definitely a celebrity architect, at the opening of the Prada stores of his design in New York and Los Angeles, he was a recognizable figure
  • Former journalist and screenwriter who studied architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London
  • “Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design” at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design
  • In 1975 Koolhaas along with some other architects founded the OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), dedicated to finding “new synergies” between architecture and contemporary culture
  • In 2005, he co-founded ‘Volume Magazine’ together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman.


  • Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate for the year 2000
  • TIME Magazine Best Architecture for 2004 (Seattle Central Library)
  • RIBA Gold Medal (2004).
  • In 2005 Rem Koolhaas received the Mies van der Rohe Award for the Netherlands Embassy, Berlin

A Visionary Architect:

From the Pritzker Prize Jurors:

  • Rem Koolhaas is that rare combination of visionary and implementer —philosopher and pragmatist — theorist and prophet — an architect whose ideas about buildings and urban planning made him one of the most discussed contemporary architects in the world even before any of his design projects came to fruition.
  • He is not a formalist, yet he creates form. He is not a functionalist, yet programs are the generators of his solutions; he is not a theoretician, yet ideas dominate his work.

Design Philosophy

  • Boldly produces buildings that differ visually to their surroundings
  • Celebrates the “chance-like” nature of city
  • Interrogated the “Program“ to oppose the notion “ an act to edit function and human activities “ as the pretext of architectural design
  • His work emphatically embraces the contradictions of  two disciplines- architecture and urban design

Important Work:

  • Kunsthal, (Rotterdam, 1993)
  • Euralille (Lille, 1988)
  • Netherlands Dance Theater (The Hague, 1988)
  • Educatorium, (Utrecht, 1993-1997)
  • Netherlands Embassy (Berlin, 2003)
  • Guggenheim Museum, (Las Vegas, 2002)
  • Nexus Housing (Fukuoka, Japan)
  • Retail design for Prada stores (New York 2003, Los Angeles 2004)
  • McCormick Tribune Campus Center, (IIT Chicago, Illinois, 1997-2003)
  • Seattle Central Library (2004)
  • Casa da Música (Oporto, 2005)
  • CCTV HQ, Beijing (2008)

CCTV HQ Beijing:

Project Details:

  • Architects: Rem Koolhassand OMA,East China Architecture and Design Institute of Shanghai (ECADI)
  • Engineers: OveArup and Partners
  • Financing:Chinese Government (est. Investment: $1.2 Billion)
  • Location: New central business district in Beijing, China

Architectural Concept:

  • It takes the state-run broadcaster to a new level of global broadcasting, expanding from its previous operation of running 13 channels to over 200 upon completion.
  • Combines administration and offices, news and broadcasting, programme production and services – the entire process – in a single loop of interconnected activities
  • Consists of nine-storey ‘Base’, the two leaning Towers that slope at 6° in each direction, and the nine to 13-storey ‘Overhang’, suspended 36 storeys in the air
  • A visionary design, radical shape – defying the traditional skyscraper
  • A landmark building, reflects the new image of China
  • A major engineering design and construction feat


  • The design not only adds to the interest of the internal space but also complements the functionality of the building, which needs to support the full range of processes involved in TV production.
  • The variable space and the continual loop structure make the building ideal for creating the desired interconnected sequence of activity, and provide a fitting new home for CCTV.
  • The facade mirrors the form of the structural braces.
  • The leaning towers and the interconnecting section created a real challenge in engineering terms and required an innovative approach to make the uniquely-shaped building possible.


  • The weight of the floor plates is taken by structural cores
  • The forces at the skin are distributed along diagrid skeleton.
  • The positioning of the columns and diagonal tubes on the exoskeleton reflects the distribution of forces in the surface skin of the building
  • Forms irregular pattern on the façade
  • Uses about 20% less steel compared to a single tower of similar area
  • For better appearance exoskeleton under a curtainwall layer

Significance in the Contemporary Scene:

  • An influential architect of the contemporary scene  – Aspiring, adventurous, visionary and innovative
  • Creates new precedent with ‘top down skyscraper’ for a ‘top down organisation’
  • New Concepts of architecture and structure. First instance of a loop form implemented for a building
  • Emphasis on exploiting present day materials
  • Brings in technology, structure as a key component in buildings
  • Rem Koolhaas has extended the boundaries of the possible through his radical designs


  • Deconstructivist? Structuralist? Late modernist?
  • Often criticized for lack of aesthetic consideration.
  • Simply architecture that wants to be different
  • Though a landmark, the boldness of the “twisted loop” is out of place in Beijing’s skyline and Chinese culture.


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Contemporary Architecture

Jean Nouvel – The Torre Agbar

Biography: Jean Nouvel was born in 1945 in Fumel, France. He has been working as an architect since 1975, mainly in France, Germany and Japan.

  • 1972 – diploma from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts
  • 1975 – opens his first architectural studio
  • 1981 – wins competition for a series of large-scale projects proposed by President Francois Mitterrand
  • 1988 – forms a partnership with Swiss architect Emmanuel Cattani
  • 1991 – becomes vice-president of the Institut Frençais d’Architecure
  • 1993 – named Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects

Design Philosophy: “ For me, architecture is a modification. A little modification of a landscape, a part of a city, a complement to other buildings, a testimony of an epoch and so on. It’s not a kind of sculpture. “

– sensitivity to context – cultural, geographical or architectural.
– more dynamic and lively architecture.

“My research is always around the idea of specificity and I don’t like to repeat the same vocabulary or to do the same architecture on every spot on the earth.”

– focus on creating something unique and exclusive to the place.

– full of simplicity, delicacy, & depth. The Torre Agbar, Barcelona, Spain: Project Details:

  • Program: 142 m highrise for the registered office of the company Aigües de Barcelona (AGBAR) + auditorium of 350 places
  • Client: Layetana Inmuebles S.L.
  • Architects: AJN and b720 (Barcelona Architectural studio)
  • Structure: Obiols/Brufau
  • Builder: Dragados/Axima/Emte
  • Architect/Lobby/Top Management: b720 advised by AJN
  • Project Management: Master Igeneria
  • General Management: Agbar Servicios Compartidos

Location: Its Key strategic position ensures easy access and proximity to the most important and emblematic places in the city The origin: Inspired by the architectural legacy of Montserrat, the Agbar Tower rises from the ground with the power and lightness of a geyser. Use of 81000 LEDs to produce 16 million colours Bioclimatic Architecture

  • Regulation of air flow
  • Use of sunlight through building’s orientation
  • Energy Efficient
  • Use of insulating, recyclable and non-contaminating materials.
  • Use of Renewable Energy sources in design.

Air Flow:

  • 8500 windows designed to achieve natural ventilation.
  • Double glazing

Materials & Energy Efficiency:

  • No material is used that contains formaldehyde, asbestos or lead.
  • Optimization of elevator routes using a computer system to avoid unnecessary consumption and ensure service for people with special needs.
  • Average solar heat gain : 25.11 %.
  • Natural Heating and Ventilation through louvers.
  • Temperature sensors on external façade.

Use of sunlight: Fritted Louvers

  • provide partial shade to the building’s surface, and
  • create a ventilation space that allows heat to rise and escape before reaching the thermal envelope behind.

A Business Tower

  • It announces the location of the new barcelona business centre like a lighthouse attracting businesses for the immediate future.
  • At the doors of the new business district 22 in Barcelona.
  • Priviledged work environment with singular prestige.

Office Spaces:

  • Column free spaces
  • Free height 2.6m
  • Encapsulated technical floor
  • 1500kg/m² load bearing steel false ceiling.
  • Embedded sprinklers and lights
  • Modular furniture
  • One kitchen per floor

Building Characteristics:

  • 28 floors : Office Use
  • 03 floors : Refugee floors
  • 01 floor   : Cafeteria
  • 01 floor   : Multipurpose Room
  • 01 floor   : Panoramic View
  • 8 Elevators +
  • 1 Service Elevator +
  • 02 floors : Auditorium + Services
  • 02 floors : Parking

Interior Design

  • The interior design is based on the energy and colour of its exterior skin

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Date of birth: April 1934
  • Place of birth: Indianapolis in Indiana, USA.
  • Nationality: American
  • Education: received architectural training at the university of Cincinnati & Harvard University, won “the Rome prize” in 1960 & studied for 2 years at “American academy” in Rome.
  • Profession: began his practice in 1964 in Princeton, New Jercy.
  • Firm: Michael graves & associates, 1964, (a 75 persons firm)


  • Graves continues to turn to architecture itself for his inspiration.
  • He has a deep interest in existing architecture: – ancient, neo- classical, modern – & derives pleasure from reinterpreting it’s forms & compositions.
  • He gives credence to the basic tenet that there is no such thing as an original idea but that everything original is based on the reworking of what already exists.
  • One very strong influence on the work of graves is the interest in & appreciation of; the simple domestic rituals of life that one enjoys or ought to be able to enjoy, despite the speed at which technology is rustling us into the cyber space.

Japan travel:

  • Graves has been steadily developing his practice in Japan for the last 15 years.
  • He explains that Japan has “become a place to experiment a bit with abstraction. In Europe & America I’m probably a bit more conscious of historic context”. Because so often the cities we’ve been asked to design for there are completely rebuilt.
  • In Japan graves architecture was seen as ‘humanistic’ rather than ‘mechanistic’ i.e. In terms of materials & the anthropometric qualities of the building. He used man as the metaphor rather than the machine


  • Grave’s language of architecture operates on a number of levels. It is meant to be legible & a part of everyday life.
  • Secondly, & certainly no less important although admittedly more understandable to the trained eye, is a passionate & sometimes playful interest in reworking the commonly accepted language of architecture into a uniquely personal expression of what it might become, without losing its identity.
  • The reworking of what exists into what is unknown but still recognizable is the goal.
  • Grave’s practice is practice in the literal sense of the word. He is constantly practicing the rules & principles of architecture.
  • He desires to create a pleasant, comfortable environment for the people in his building.
  • His continually evolving experimentation with architectural form & language at the level of abstraction & figuration, scale & color, size & structural system is such that, there is emergence of new ideas without denying existence of traditions.

Architectural style:

  • Graves has been an architect who is not simply concerned with formal manipulation a self- referential language but is equally occupied with a building’s significance with time & place.
  • He designs building in a near-populist attitude, so that non architects can recognize distinct architectural elements within their compositions & relate them in scale to their own bodies.
  • His early projects reveal distinct references to the environment that the buildings are a part of:-
    • a curve referring to the clouds above.
    • A mural expanding the perspective of a room.
    • a yellow rail referring to the sun
    • a terracotta base suggesting grounding in the earth.


  • Graves strategy has been “to internalize the events  of the building”, identifying particular components     of the program that can be given formal emphasis. The result is that these large complexes become cities into themselves, self contained by somewhat inward looking.
  • Whether the emphasis of the building is primarily  horizontal or vertical, a hierarchial route is established through the repetitive spaces.
  • Relationship b/w indoors or outdoors by “pushing the wall as far out as it can get to make a bay window    that grabs the light” e.G. Humana building or by carving something out of the face of the building so people can literally go outside, e.g  Tazima building.

Architectural details:

  • Built form
    • Influenced by the roman style, Graves tried to create grand interior spaces but broken down to human scale.
    • Cubical facades treated in the classical three part division or tripartite form with the base, shaft & cornice.
    • In later projects, the strict form of the cube is broken.
    • It forms the basic element as surface texture, due to their proportion & repetition.
  • Façade:
    • Uses column as surface treatment & defining the cornice or the head of the building &   entrance.
    • Facades are symmetrical &  linearity broken by adding vertical bands of colors &   windows.
    • Uses square windows but tries  to achieve the principles of neoclassical style.


  • Place : Louisville, Kentucky, Humana
  • Design started :1982
  • Design completed:1985
  • Structure material used: steel  frame & granite
  • No. Of stories : 26


  • Humana building is the headquaters well-known american company specializing in health care.
  • The modern buildings surrounding the site are set back from the street on plazas, eroding the historical urban street wall pattern.
  • In contrast, the humana building occupies its entire site and re-establishes the street edge as an essential urban form.
  • The 525,000 square foot building includes two parking levels below grade, retail shops on the first floor, and offices and conference center above
  • The building’s formal organisation reflects its devision into these significant parts
  • The lower portion, six stories high, is devoted to public space and to humana’s executive offices.
  • General offices are located in the body of the building.
  • The conference center occupies the 25th floor, with access to a large outdoor porch overlooking the city and the river beyond

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