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
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.”
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.