BY RE­THINK­ING THE WAYS IN WHICH THE MOD­ERN SKY­SCRAPER IS BE­ING BUILT, AR­CHI­TECT OLE SCHEEREN AIMS TO MAKE THE BUILT EN­VI­RON­MENT A GREENER AND MORE COM­MU­NAL SPACE

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The sky­scraper has be­come a ubiq­ui­tous sight in any mod­ern city. But as cities grow denser than ever be­fore, these com­mand­ing struc­tures can add to the gen­eral sense of ver­tig­i­nous claus­tro­pho­bia—an ef­fect that Ger­man ar­chi­tect Ole Scheeren hopes to counter by re­think­ing the ways in which these mono­lithic tow­ers are built. “The ar­chi­tec­ture that we build is not for our­selves, but for the public and the peo­ple who in­habit those build­ings,” says the prin­ci­pal and founder of his epony­mous firm, Büro Ole Scheeren. “The denser our cities be­come, the more im­por­tant it be­comes to think about the types of spa­ces we can cre­ate in them.”

BUILT IN­TEN­TION

The son of an ar­chi­tect, Scheeren grew up in the city of Karl­sruhe in south­west Ger­many. He joined OMA (the Of­fice for Metropoli­tan Ar­chi­tec­ture) at the age of 24 in 2002, work­ing un­der the men­tor­ship of renowned Dutch ar­chi­tect Rem Kool­haas. Scheeren left OMA in 2010 to set up his epony­mous prac­tice; cur­rently, the itin­er­ant ar­chi­tect trav­els across all four of­fices in Bei­jing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Ber­lin. Dur­ing his ten­ure as the Asia direc­tor of OMA, Scheeren seized the world’s at­ten­tion with the de­sign and con­struc­tion of the CCTV Head­quar­ters in Bei­jing. Co-de­signed with Kool­haas, this megas­truc­ture houses China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion and was en­vi­sioned as a steel loop that links the dif­fer­ent pro­cesses of me­dia pro­duc­tion, thereby cre­at­ing in­ter­con­nected spa­ces within the com­plex. Today, it has be­come a land­mark that frames the ur­ban land­scape of Bei­jing. In­deed, the un­con­ven­tional look of each of Scheeren’s projects has at­tracted his fair share of crit­ics and ad­mir­ers alike, in­clud­ing Chi­nese President Xi Jin­ping, who re­port­edly counted the CCTV tower among Bei­jing’s “weird build­ings”. Its un­usual shape has also seen it com­pared to “a pair of trousers” among the gen­eral public. “The rea­son why my build­ings may look dif­fer­ent from other projects is not an at­tempt to look dif­fer­ent; it’s be­cause they do some­thing dif­fer­ent from the norm,” ex­plains the ar­chi­tect. “I think that when you do things that break the sta­tus quo in such rad­i­cal ways, it takes time for these projects to be re­ally un­der­stood and to find their place in the public con­scious­ness.”

DUO (2017) SIN­GA­PORE The con­cave voids of this twotower project cre­ate a dy­namic sil­hou­ette that’s also at­ten­tive to the needs of its trop­i­cal con­text. Rooftops and el­e­vated ter­races house ver­dant spa­ces, thereby in­creas­ing the abun­dance of green­ery through­out the com­pound. The project re­ceived the Ar­chi­tec­ture of the Year ac­co­lade at the Tatler De­sign Awards, held in Fe­bru­ary this year.

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