The paradigm shift from serial reproduction towards serial permutation, from copies to iterations, is happening as digital technologies allow more variation and flexibility even in mass production. ADD is involved in Soft Tower, an R&D venture that explores the digital possibilities for the architecture of high-rises. They are often stifled to a monotonous experience through the repetition of units and building components. Digital design and fabrication open up ecological and experiential potential to design and construct an exciting high-rise, a “soft tower”. In Soft Tower the elements of a building – form, program, pattern, color and ornament – are all coordinated to produce new, more ecological sensations.
The aim is to create a new way of designing and constructing a high-rise, and to create more ecological experiences of vertical living.
High-rises offer efficiently dense and optimized urban living as well as sustainable building by inter-linking technological solutions. Energy producing technologies can be used on the outer skin of the building, while advanced elevator systems for moving people, and climatically and programmatically responsive architectural solutions can provide sustainability throughout the high-rise’s life cycle. The flexibility and plurality offered by the Soft Tower makes it adaptable to fluctuating trends in housing, service and office preferences.
The initial phase of the Soft Tower research project was developed through a joint collaboration between the architecture students from Aalto University and UCLA in the USA. During this process, the visiting students from UCLA developed a site specific research and conceptual design based on a set of locations selected by Aalto University students throughout the city of Helsinki. The resulting proposals were first presented in the context of the UCLA 2012 RUMBLE session, an exhibition where the “program installations redefine the provocative opportunities confronting the next generation of architects”.
In this first phase of Soft Tower, four billboards were also installed as a citywide installation around Helsinki presenting seductive soft skyscraper proposals. Soft Tower Phase 2 is being prepared for Fall 2013.