2008 Skyscraper Competition
Throughout history, mankind has been competing to build higher towers, not only to meet spacial demands, but also to celebrate and display their technological ability. Perhaps, this kind of proud achievement is interpreted as the origin of our desire towards vertical architecture. In this sense, one can say that every vertical structure has its own monumentality. While a historical monumental tower speaks of certain memory or event, a contemporary skyscraper should celebrate its height, functions and achievement of technology. The depiction for monumentality of a skyscraper should be a different concept from the representation of a historical monument. Contemporary skyscrapers tend to express their grandiosity in a monotonous way, as if to mimic a historical monument.
This kind of phenomena eventually leads a contemporary skyscraper to be perceived as mere vertical storage, void of historical significance or real technological achievement. This design proposal explores a skyscraper that denies mere representation of vertical emptiness and becomes an attractive feature to the public. In other words, the proposal aims at true monumentality, which appears when true architecture is in operation.
The vertical spa facility, located at approximately 200 ft. of height, releases steam from each sauna unit, creating an elegant skin that covers the tower, simulating how humans sweat during physical activity. A sphere sauna shell and its integration with the core, are derived from the shape of pores in the skin. The vertical circulation and the elevator work as the skeleton of the facility. The framed glass is a depiction of covering drapery, as well as pathways for steam evaporation.
The facility is located on the river, so the environment creates the mirror image of the tower on the surface of water. The reflection of the tower and steam evaporation neutralize the heavy sense of gravity, as well as the sense of buoyancy. The deck with punctuated holes is filled with spherical ornaments and plants, which create a sense of continuity from the ground level to the top of the tower as if water bubbles floated from the river to the air. With maximum capable operation, the tower becomes a vertical connection between ground and sky.