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  #1  
Old Posted May 29, 2014, 4:02 PM
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Could the era of glass skyscrapers be over?

Could the era of glass skyscrapers be over?


27 May 2014



Read More: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27501938

Quote:
One of the architects behind London's famous Gherkin skyscraper has now turned against glass buildings. Is it time tall towers were made out of something else, asks Hannah Sander.

- Architect Ken Shuttleworth, one of the team at Foster and Partners who designed the tower, now thinks the gigantic glass structure was a mistake. --- "The Gherkin is a fantastic building," he says. "But we can't have that anymore. We can't have those all-glass buildings. We need to be much more responsible."

- The Cheesegrater, the Walkie-Talkie and the Shard loomed up from the pavements of London. The skylines of both Birmingham and Manchester were drastically altered by the addition of towers by property firm Beetham. One of the best-known glass building mishaps took place last summer, when the Walkie-Talkie at 20 Fenchurch Street in London was accused of melting cars.

- Glass buildings are popular - not just because of their striking appearance but for the views they boast, and the increased light they let in. When German architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe designed what is said to be the world's first glass skyscraper in 1921, he associated the glass facade with purity and renewal. Later in the century, British architect Richard Rogers praised glass buildings because of their social worth. Glass walls enabled even employees working in the basement to benefit from reflected natural light and dissolved barriers between a cramped indoor office space and the greenery outside.

- Companies like to give the impression of a democratic working environment - open-plan and with floor-to-ceiling windows, so that all employees, not just the boss, benefit from the view. However, as concerns over global warming have become more widespread, so the glass structure has come under scrutiny.

- Since leaving Foster and Partners in 2006, Shuttleworth has become a key voice in the fight against glass. Despite his background working on giant glazed buildings, he has founded an architectural practice in which floor-to-ceiling windows are considered an archaic luxury.

- Glass lets out and lets in a lot of heat. A vast amount of energy is required for an office full of people to remain cool in the UAE and to stay warm in the snowstorms of Toronto. Governments are now so concerned by the long-term impact of "solar gain" - the extent to which a building absorbs sunlight and heats up - that they have introduced strict regulations around shape and structure.

- Architects are being encouraged to change where they place windows, so that a sunny south-facing wall has less chance to absorb heat than a chilly north-face. Walkie-Talkie developers Land Securities are currently at work on a building called the Zig Zag, that is designed so that alternate walls cast shadows on their neighbours. The building is deliberately shaped so it can keep itself cool.

- In the US there is a campaign in favour of wooden skyscrapers, promoting wood as a "green" building material in place of glass. However, the trade association Glass for Europe has dismissed what they consider "a preconceived idea" that glass is bad. Instead they point to sustainable buildings in which glass has been fashioned into corridors that don't require central heating and solar panels that have been slotted seamlessly into a design. The association also points out that glass is fully recyclable. "A whole palette of glass products is available for the glazing to meet different functions in the building envelope," the association said. "Glass is fit for all climates."

- Engineer Andrea Charlson is part of a team at firm Arup that seeks new ways to increase material sustainability. She is not convinced that the glass in glass buildings is the cause of their problems. --- "There have been a lot of advancements in glass technology in the last few years and it's amazing what we can do now in terms of putting coatings on glass. Some of them can be a heavy colour tint that will provide some shading. Others will be almost invisible but will still keep a lot of the heat and solar gain outside a building," she says.

- Charlson is currently investigating problems in the materials that hold the glazed panels on buildings in place. "As the glass technology improves, one of the biggest causes of heat loss is through the framing. The heat energy will always try to find the path of least resistance."

- Even with the improvements to glass technology, Shuttleworth is not convinced that these sheer skyscrapers can be justified in today's society. He is not only concerned by their environmental impact, but also with the other effects a glass tower has on its surroundings.

.....



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  #2  
Old Posted May 29, 2014, 4:38 PM
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as demonstrated, glassy skyscrapers in certain locations designed without intense foresight can be problematic. It's also becoming a little too mundane. However, natural light is an important attraction these days especially with the shift towards more green friendly buildings. You can't get as much natural light without a transparent or otherwise glassy facade.
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Old Posted May 29, 2014, 4:51 PM
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Reminds me of a front lawn having a burnt out hole which was in front of a curved glassy office building, and a Las Vegas glass building that was burning sunbathing tourists.
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Old Posted May 29, 2014, 10:05 PM
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That hideous lima bean building in London was just a total fail design, you cant put that onto all glass structures.

Natural light is extremely important in work environments. We're humans, animals essentially, we're meant to spend all our lives in natural light not hunched in chairs under a harsh florescent bulb. The more we can do to let nature in the better.

Also wooden skyscrapers sounds like a horrendous idea, unless they're covered in some sort of flame retardant. Is it even possible to build that tall with wood?
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Old Posted May 29, 2014, 11:06 PM
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To get the glass look perhaps a skyscraper could be cladded with solar panels, and they would generate some of their own power!
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Old Posted May 30, 2014, 1:38 PM
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What about glass like the 787 has?

Or... curtains?
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Old Posted May 30, 2014, 4:07 PM
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snowstorms of Toronto? Toronto does not get very many snowstorms.
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Old Posted May 30, 2014, 4:16 PM
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It is completely reasonable to question the building techniques.Questioning building materials, forms and techniques in order to optimize efficiency is never a bad thing.

Glass has its place and can be used in very efficient applications, so can other materials.
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Old Posted May 30, 2014, 8:05 PM
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Personally I'll take shade. A window just means the blinds are closed if the sun is from that direction. At home privacy is also important...who wants to live in a fishbowl?
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Old Posted May 30, 2014, 8:51 PM
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I'd love to see that. As neat as some glass-clad skyscrapers look, we've been on this tangent for decades now. It'd be nice for a change-up if the primary design in a modern skyscraper was something other than the concrete box or the curtain wall.
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2014, 12:03 AM
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Let's not repeat the horrific mistakes of the 80s/90s postmodernist era. There is nothing worse in architecture than a thoughtless design only done to "not be boring". Glass, steel and clean lines are timeless; they've thrived for 80 years onwards.
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2014, 3:13 AM
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And more ornate details with a variety of materials have been "timeless" for centuries...
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Old Posted Jun 2, 2014, 1:44 AM
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No one thought of using glass and steel until 80 years ago, so...
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Old Posted Jun 2, 2014, 2:22 AM
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stonework has thrived for at least 4 millennia. Not that this is timeless, but surely more so than a mere 80 years.
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Old Posted Jun 2, 2014, 3:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
stonework has thrived for at least 4 millennia. Not that this is timeless, but surely more so than a mere 80 years.
Exactly.
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Old Posted Jun 2, 2014, 4:58 AM
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Most of the performance issues that glass had in the past have been dramatically improved and glass is still getting better all the time. If you're renovating an old building with high performance windows it's possible that the windows are more insulating than the walls themselves are.

I think (or at least I hope) that the fake load bearing walls of the neo/revival styles will be looked back on as an awkward attempt at coming to terms with new construction and technology. While these problems apply to all buildings they're most clearly evident with the tall building. First there was the aesthetic problem of making a tall building work, and there were a lot of failed attempts from the late 1800s. Eventually a visual language suitable for tall buildings was developed but it was a bastardized frankenstein of older styles, and unrelated to the function and construction of the buildings.

And now we have a visual language which is unified with the building's construction and function. While the solution itself is relatively new, its architectural virtues are timeless.

I think one of the main changes going forward is that the novelty of the solutions that were developed has worn off, and there aren't the same performance problems, so architects are more free to do whatever is best for a building's particular situation. I agree that there will be less all-glass condo towers, but other building types may find themselves becoming more glassy.
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Old Posted Jun 3, 2014, 4:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
stonework has thrived for at least 4 millennia. Not that this is timeless, but surely more so than a mere 80 years.
Because back then, stone was all there was to use.
It's like saying that humans won't continue to use computers in the future because we didn't use them 4000 years ago...
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Old Posted Jun 3, 2014, 12:59 PM
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^how do you arrive at that comparison?

They had mud/wattle. And thatch.

These skyscrapers have stood the test of time.

national geographic
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Old Posted Jun 3, 2014, 5:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson11 View Post
However, natural light is an important attraction these days especially with the shift towards more green friendly buildings. You can't get as much natural light without a transparent or otherwise glassy facade.
As the article clearly mentioned, glass would still often tend to have a rather negative impact on energy consumption for causing heat loss or on the contrary an excessive use of AC. While artificial lighting is definitely much less costly than heating or AC today, owing to economical light bulbs and the widely spread LED technology in particular. Newer types of glazed façades like those either double-skinned (to restrain sunshine) or triple-glazed (to save heat) surely help, but there are still some related problems.

That being said, glass could also help in saving energy, simply by making a proper use of it depending on the overall climate of a region and window orientations. In northern regions like the Canadian provinces, a wide window oriented to the South is certainly more comfy than to the North in that respect. While in Texas, the opposite would likely be better. That seems pretty obvious, though. They should even make an extensive use of systems to regulate the crushing effect of sunshine in the southern US, the so called Sun Belt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin55 View Post
What about glass like the 787 has?
Well yes! If this thing is energy-efficient, it's a pretty cool solution. I'm only wondering how much it would cost to the scale of a whole skyscraper. There's also brise-soleil that's been in use all over the world for ages in architecture. That's probably usually not too expensive, except maybe for the most sophisticated modern versions that are automated mechanisms to let a certain amount of daylight in, depending on the sunshine intensity. Like the system in use at the Paris Arab World Institute, the most impressive brise-soleil mechanism I've ever seen in person.

Anyway, today, it just requires some bioclimatic studies to make proper decisions in building designs. Skilled architects surely can take an aesthetic advantage of this, cause it should motivate them to design some more sophisticated and more diverse façades. There's no reason to systematically ban fully glazed façades. There's no reason to build only glazed façades, like exclusively either. The best would be to make a proper use of what's available in modern engineering.
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Old Posted Jun 3, 2014, 5:26 PM
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Generally speaking, London is the perfect place to build with glass. It's never really too cold or too hot, the sun isn't that intense, and natural light is at a premium.
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