The Idea of Megastructure
- Pages: 9
- Word count: 2217
- Category: Science Fiction
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Metabolism is a post war Japanese architectural movement that fused ideas about architectural mega structures with those of organic biological growth. Its first international exposition was during CIAM’s 1959 meeting and its ideas were tentatively tested by students from Kenzo Tange’s MIT studio .During the preparation of the 1960 Tōkyō World Design Conference, a group of young architects and designers, including Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa, and Fumihiko Maki, prepared the publication of the metabolism manifesto. They were influenced by a wide variety of sources including the Marxist theories and biological processes. Their manifesto was a series of four essays titled: Ocean City, Space City, Towards Group Form, and Material and Man. They also included designs for vast cities that floated on the oceans and plug in capsule towers that could incorporate organic growth. Although the World Design Conference gave the metabolism architects exposure on the international stage, their ideas remained theoretical .
Metabolists develop their organic schemes to respond to changing activities. Metabolism is the belief that design and technology should express the vitality of living organisms. The basis of the ideas adopted by metabolism architects results from the idea that everything in life changes and is altered by rapid technological developments. As a result of the changing human needs, buildings must adapt their spaces to the new activities. This requires them to be able to change and grow as a living organism. The icon of Metabolism, Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, was erected in the Ginza district of Tōkyō in 1972 and completed in just 30 days. It was prefabricated in Shiga Prefecture in a factory that normally built shipping containers. It is constructed of 140 capsules plugged into two cores that are 11 and 13 stories in height .
Mega structure is also an architectural concept popularised in the 1960s where a city has a single building or a relatively small number of interconnected buildings. Such arcology is popular in science fiction. Mega structures often play a part in the plot or setting of science fiction movies and books.The idea of mega structure is like the natural evolution of the organic idea with respect to growth and development. Different parts of the same organism work in the same mechanism as flowers, leaves, and fruits that grow from one tree. Huge technological development in the 1960s helped with the development of that idea. The first two definitions of megastructure were given by Fumihiko Maki in “Investigations in Collective Form”. He defined it saying that “the artificial landscape is ‘made possible by present day technology,’ but its giant infrastructure is supposed to serve as ‘the great hill on which Italian towns were built’“. Maki also mentions the definition of megastructures that was given by his Professor, Kenzo Tange. He states that it “is a form of architectural forms, the Mass human scale and self serving, separate units gathered rapidly changing during the larger structure” .
Early examples of these constructions and spatial forms were held in Montreal Expo Canada (1967). The exhibition of these facilities could be extended to cover the whole exhibition hall in one giant building. It is an example of spatial structures of classical history. It is designed to be a number of spaces adaptable to any activity and linked by escalators, making a giant urban space in multiple storey’s. Technological development includes several factors like construction and structural elements of central capsules. These created huge cumulative and mixed major units and sub units. All of these underlines the strong influence of organic theory and expressed by cutting edge technology.
In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century the human consciousness has globally identified the impact of the industrial revolution on the global environment. The concept of environment’s preservation that turn to mainstream . Hence, architects had to take a stance. They compromised architecture, urban context, environmental fabrics, and thus, the concept of appropriateness . Nowadays, numerus of active groups pressure on governments to preserve the globe. Green parties in Europe and America has increased especially between 1970s and 1980s. Scientist state that water problems dropped to less than half with population increase, particularly in the Arab world, Africa and India .
Within the late two decades, a set of architectural trends emerged. These try to sync with the environmental variables to achieve the concept of sustainable development as defined by “The World Commission on Environment and Development” in 1992. Its report (our common future) aims to get the needs of the present without compromising the rights of the coming generations . The most important of sustainability objectives, which tends to preserve the architectural heritage, is to be able to access managed and maintained buildings under the socio-economic conditions. The most important thing of these features is to be compatible with its surroundings and environment, conserve natural sources, and blend with all successful art forms. This encourages individuals and the society to preserve, respect and make good use of the environment. Sustainability popped due to advanced architectural treatments to local environmental conditions. Eco architecture is therefore also called green architecture. It requires a lot to keep the energy and biological comfort through creating a proper design without wasting the natural resources .
Green architecture is a term influenced with plants and their life cycle and their impact on man and the environment together as they convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and enhance the environment quality . A number of buildings even have a system called “the Building Life Cycle”. Green architecture is a kind of buildings that use natural resources like the sun and air. It provides people’s demands and keep them healthy and comfortable. It increases environmental awareness in water consumption, construction, and wastewater recycle . Green architecture uses architectural elements to allow the entry of air into spaces to increase the air movement. It also takes advantage of the sun in lighting by using solar tubes. These techniques reduce the need for electric power generation and hence reduces pollution .
Norman Foster’s architecture has a sophisticated influence on nature. Foster deviated from the traditional design solution in skyscrapers that used to have ground floor offices wrapped around buildings core. His building Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt (1991 97). Foster has created the building such that it can open to allow natural air to enter. The central atrium also allows natural air to ascend. Sky Gardens also provide high floors and set a fixed rate of natural ventilation. In order to obtain maximum benefit from natural ventilation techniques, computers are used to monitor weather conditions and adjust the size of the air inside the building and change the temperature during the day Norman Foster’s Swiss Reinsurance Headquarters Building Company in London provides natural ventilation on most days of the year. .
The passive effects of environmental pollution have been increased due to the massive using up of a resource such fossil fuels that needed for electricity generation needed for industry and all man use. Subsequently, naturalism peaked at the end of the twentieth century and the first decade of the 21st century. This led to the emergence of sustainable trend in architecture that is always try to be more compatible with the environment . Additionally, this could compensate the environmental destruction resulting from advanced technology.
By the 1980s, architecture started seeking for compatibility with the environment without harming the natural environment or the climate. There have also been persistent attempts to develop architecture and accommodate it with the needs of users and the requirements of the modern time. Sustainable architecture supports the environmental balance by relying on ecological systems. According to this trend, building materials can be reused to diminish the use of natural resources. Sustainable architecture blends natural resources with art form and architectural composition that gives the expressive features .
Automated factors, which have recently turn into a major component in the composition of building, cannot be overlooked. Some energy saving elements are equipped the buildings like the World Trade Tower in Manama, Bahrain. This building uses three-dimensional vertical turbines to generate power for the building. Automated factors appeared just like mechanical elements such as elevators, electrical and HVAC systems, generators, building management systems, and others. All these elements, which became under the current conceptual vision are of the main factors of building design.
Green architecture, also known as with its potentials in being compatible with its surroundings. Additionally, it helps building to minimizes harmful effects on human health and the environment. Green architecture tends to create systems could control the air, water, and earth by devise the building to be more sustainable materials . In the last two decades, substantive interrelation took place between architecture and environment. Green architecture is related to the economics of energy. The similarity is in the extensive value of energy issues and environmental preservation. This produced the green architecture theory with foundations based on rates and bioclimatic measurements. It aims to achieve an equilibrium between human needs and the surrounding environment, making it one of the essential architectural treatises since the end of the twentieth century.
Architects seek compatibility with the environment and try to improve the energy efficiency flow in buildings. Also, improvements are made to the transition from static to dynamic forms in order to meet the requirements of energy conservation. One of the concerns of the green architecture is to reduce the negative environmental effect of the building, the cost of construction, and the negative effects on the environment. This is done by using sophisticated technology. Nature inspires architects though plants, animals and natural elements in the universe, such as the mountains, wind, water, rocks, and their products. Not only did their appearance inspire them, but also the way they operated. This interest applies in the work of Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw, and others.
Smart buildings deliver useful building services (illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, and sanitation) that make occupants productive at the lowest cost and environmental destruction over the building lifecycle. Reaching this vision requires adding intelligence from the beginning of design phase to the end of the building’s useful life. Smart buildings use information technology during operation to connect a variety of subsystems, which typically operate independently to optimize total building performance. They are connected to the smart power grid, and they interact with building operators and occupants to empower them with new levels of visibility.
In the second half of the twentieth century, modern computer science used sophisticated methods to do the work. This science is known as artificial intelligence. Computer technology reflects on all aspects including architecture. The building has become the closest thing to living organisms. It thinks, moves, monitors changes around it and inside it, and expects what the occupants will act upon it . Expanding applications use artificial intelligence. In the early 1980s, artificial intelligence was introduced into all aspects of life. Information technology (IT) and building management systems (BMS) merged to be the result called intelligent buildings.
Intelligent buildings are one’s smart enough to use artificial intelligence. They could therefore hold some qualities of human beings. They respond and have automatic reaction mechanisms to certain conditions and variables. Their effective capacity to adapt to internal and external environmental variables changes daily and seasonal situations.
Naturalism has influenced architecture in different ways. Its different aspects created several architectural approaches, organic, green, sustainable, ecological architecture. All kinds of architecture are conceptual tools that evaluate models derived from nature and ecosystem. They also provide a framework for conceptualizing environmental and technical issues. Different approaches in architecture are inspired by nature and it’s sustainable, conserving, diverse, flexible, and adaptable qualities. Architectural movements are influenced by nature and new natural science theories. This inspiration had created a different approach in dealing with architecture. Architecture is also translated into design process, materials, motifs, and basic ordering principles.
Sustainable architecture was driven by a search for a new architectural language and, at the same time, is a poetic expression of naturalism. Sustainable architecture has received media attention in the whole world. It has generated an enormous interest in architecture in general. It aims to solve the issues that came with the rapid change in climate, anticipated effects like the increasing global temperature, rising sea levels, changing precipitation, and expansion of deserts in the subtropics. Sustainable architecture supports the environmental balance by relying on ecological systems and building materials can be reused to reduce the consumption of natural resources. Sustainable architecture and its systematic conceptual approach would have to broaden the narrow view of materiality and technology towards a fundamental rethinking of environment and nature.
Beyond nations and states, what could a desired future version of this be? Architectural schemes would emerge and go beyond the metaphor and function and living organisms’ behavioral approaches to address effective designs for adaptation to change. Architects would build new alliances and reorganize their work in trans disciplinary practice. Sustainable architects and designers will learn from their architectural practice in solving environmental problems in buildings and cities and landscapes and address a variety of spaces for new commonalities, aesthetics, and environmental values. The below table summarizes the differences between how architectural movements were inspired differently by living organisms and their features.