2012 Skyscraper Competition
In an era where mega-structures threaten to strip man’s needs and the humanity of architecture from new buildings and the field as a whole, the “Tower of Babel” seeks to do the opposite, existing as a living monument to its creator and their aspirations. The building is perpetually “under construction” as the needs and wants of its creator evolve, allowing the monument to experiment with and showcase many architectural trends.
The skyscraper is a mutation of the Palace of Culture and Science, an enormous, landmark structure built in 1955 in the destroyed center of Warsaw, Poland (which was still ravaged from WWII). Although it is the most recognizable symbol of Warsaw, it is a controversial building, as it symbolizes, to many, Soviet domination and the enslavement of the Polish nation. A typical communist monument, it ignored the local architectural vernacular and good urban planning, and instead was built as a monolith to tower over the rest of the city.
Despite this, the designer of the Tower of Babel defends the Palace: “It is a monument of IDEA, a monument of its creators.” Today’s architectural monuments are driven by money, not people, and symbolize the culture’s worship as such. This capitalist approach to architecture creates a “dystopia,” says the designer. The Tower of Babel is therefore meant to glorify the old use of monuments to honor people and social ideas. It is a “maze of glued-together architectural blocks which are not finished, incomplete or damaged.” This commentary reveals that though past monuments may have glorified controversial regimes or figureheads, at least they had soul, and purpose; modern monuments are about nothing but the monument itself, and the designer protests this reality by leaving the structure raw, without purpose or completion.