Top Towers / Königsberger Vannucchi

Architect: Königsberger Vannucchi - Jorge Königsberger and Gianfranco Vannucchi
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Collaborators: Sandra Dellarole, Huang Kuo Che, Liliane Caparelli, Carla Estrella, Luiz Boscardin and Luiz Paulo Eigenheer
Project Year: 2005-2006
Construction Year: 2007-2008
Site Area: 3,800 sqm
Constructed Area: 25,930 sqm
Photographs: Leonardo Finotti

This project in São Paulo, Brazil, demanded the design of two office towers in a terrain of relatively difficult occupation, because of its narrow and elongated shape. Its location, however, is extremely privileged, situated in the confluence of some of the city’s most important avenues, Paulista Ave., Vergueiro Ave., and Vinte e Três de Maio Ave. The opportunity to the design a new building in such a place also represented a great potential for the creation of a new landmark of great visibility in the city’s skyline.

Thus, two major guidelines were present at the development of the Top Towers project. The first was a group of typical demands from the real estate market, which included the thorough use of the terrain’s building potential, the optimization of the private areas and the adoption of the best possible relation between private and common areas. The second consisted in the architect’s concern of imbuing the project with great formal richness and impressive plasticity that could achieve the goal of creating a new urban reference.
These two relatively conflicting guidelines also needed to be matched through the use of simple and economic constructive techniques, commonly employed by the average building companies in Brazil. This took to the effort of exploring new and innovative applications for common-use, traditional building methods. What was in search was a simple technical solution that wouldn’t force simplicity in the resulting formal effect and that, quite the contrary, could become an architectonical representation of the rich diversity of the surrounding urban tissue.

The two towers are composed by compact office rooms that could be united to each other by the owners in various different ways, thus producing almost infinite possibilities of area and shape for the final commercial units. From this concern with the flexibility of the plans came the proposal of adopting multiple setbacks as the towers grew in height, so that there would be different floor models available; these setbacks would be mirrored in opposite directions in each tower, establishing a relation of formal tension between both.

Small terraces were incorporated to each office unit that comprise two different functions. The first of technical character, the installation of individual HVAC units; the second as a space destined for the contemplation of the breathtaking view proportioned by the site. Although open terraces in commercial units are a somewhat atypical proposal, the solution is perfectly coherent, considering the beautiful panoramic view that reaches up to the city’s downtown in one direction and the green fields of the Ibirapuera park in another, also including almost the whole extension of the famous Paulista Ave.

The terraces were distributed along a game of displacements between the floors, creating a composition that at first might seem random, but, seen from a distance, reinforce the sensation of tension between both towers, such as fragments of an explosion spreading in opposite directions.

Structurally, these terraces work as small extensions in balance of the wide slab that supports each floor. This solution allowed the composition of this game of displacements without any need of dislodging the modulation of beams or pillars that form the building’s skeleton. The final result has the appearance of great complexity, but is actually developed on design and structural principles of strict and rigorous simplicity.

The formal complexity is also incremented by a series of empty concavities in various points of the towers, as though some of the units were casually removed. This allowed the contact between the common hall in each floor and the exterior of the building, bringing light and air to this often neglected space.
The towers were positioned along the extension of the terrain, but with a slight disarray between both that makes the whole project have totally different aspects depending on the point from where it’s seen. From the south, they detach themselves as two independent volumes; from the north, they are fused together, becoming a lone monolithic ziggurat.

The materials were selected giving priority to the building economy and efficiency. Finishing materials of simple use, easy maintenance and high durability were privileged, whereas more expensive materials that wouldn’t have great impact on the final aesthetical result were abandoned. This option resides on the acknowledgement that good architecture expresses itself through beauty and harmony of forms, not through the use of seemingly sophisticated materials that add nothing to the quality of the design, only to its final cost. In this way, the project strove to achieve an architecture that could be recognized as generous to the city, without being too costly for the client.

Conceptually, the Top Towers aim to reference, albeit in a contemporary and renovated way, the playful modulated façades of so many of São Paulo’s buildings from the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s that still stand in the city’s downtown. Its impacting language of light and shadows is also related to today’s world contemporary production, one in which Architecture is again an expressive protagonist in the city’s built environment.

Cite: "Top Towers / Königsberger Vannucchi" 14 Nov 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=8794>
  • http://michelcarlos.blogspot.com/ Mic

    Um gol de placa!

  • Lite

    Ugly.
    The text, besides the fact was bad written, doesn’t really have much consistency in the argument. Sounds like old stuff to me, just as the design looks old.

  • ninja

    Lite, why don´t you come work in south america?

  • grey

    It’s a monstrosity. It doesn’t look modern at all. It’s just dull, dismal and dreary.

  • marcos

    UGLY. It’s a dirt in Sao Paulo landscape. Fail.

  • Lite

    @ Ninja
    Just wondering what’s the matter with working in South Am …
    Actually i’ve seen great stuff coming up from chile. I have also seen good stuff from brazil. I just can’t see any beauty in this project at all and it seems like i’m not the only one.
    Also the text’s argument is not convincing.
    But bring us your point Ninja, let’s use this space for information exchange. What’s up with working at SouthAm?

  • ninja

    Lite, you talk portuguese from Brazil?

  • ninja
  • Brazilian architect

    I don’t believe what’s in question is ugliness or beauty of the design. If one is familiar with architectural production in Brazil, he will know that what is produced for the real estate market here is nothing more than crap.

    Most architects accept this fact and produce worthless commercial architecture. And by that I mean fake, bad-executed neo-classic trash produced for newly enriched, cultureless people that believe that living in a residential building that looks like a French chateau will make them look nobler.

    Some architects do indeed have the opportunity to produce good architecture, but they are usually the ones that have the luck of having a minimal rich and cultured clientele that asks for the pretty houses we see in magazines. Some others have contacts in the government and take the opportunity to design the few good schools, museums and the like.

    There is, however, some few architects that try to fight the status quo and produce good architecture for the unnerving real estate market. After all, what we see in the streets and public spaces is the architecture the real estate market builds, as the pretty houses are all isolated in rich and gilded neighborhoods. That’s what give quality to the experience of strolling around the city and then be surprised by something like these Top Towers.

    One may find it ugly or beauty, but what it’s certain is that there is something of new and unexpected in it. It’s, of course, cheap architecture for commercial purposes, but it surely is also the result of confronting what the real estate market imposes to us in Brazil. In that way, I do believe these towers shed some light of hope to the future of Brazilian cities, if not particularly to the state-of-the-art architecture some privileged people from developed countries are used to see, work and live in.

  • ninja

    Bravo!

  • european arch. student living in Sao Paulo

    @Brazilian architect

    Hi

    moste of what you say is absolutely true.
    but i still don`t get the point of this building.
    So you basicly say … lets build a lot of trash buildings to show what the real estate market does to us?

    As if S.P. has not enough ugly buildings already.

  • Phil Donato

    As a Sao Paulo citizen , I must say , its a piece of crap !!!

  • pedro, from rio de janeiro

    brazilian architecture is in deep crisis, in rio it’s even worst than são paulo.

    but the real state condition in brazil cannot be an excuse for the architecture we have been producing the last decades, except in the cases when the contractors change the architect’s design without his agreement. that don’t seems to be the case, as the architects decided to publish the project.

    i recognize the intention of the architects to propose something unusual for the brazilian real market, that surprisingly accepted the design. but the design itself don’t presents anything new if we think in global terms, in the other hand, it looks like poor dutch architecture. it’s heavy and bold in a saturated landscape. the colors are awful. the windows are small. so, what’s the poit of proposing something if this is low quality architecture? just because it’s different? just because it means a swift from french classical do pseudo dutch contemporary?

    ps:
    have someone noticed the football stadiums for the 2014 world cup? all projected by politicians friends, without any competition

    • Paulo

      football stadiums….politicians friends…!?!? this is so Brazilian.

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  • (other)

    hey pedro,

    Do you think that big glasses are a good solution for the Brazilian weather?

  • pedro, from rio de janeiro

    i’m talking about glass façades!!!
    of course must take into consideration the building orientation and the necessary sun shading resources.
    but having proper openings bring light and ventilation to the apartments.

  • thiago

    i am brasilian too, and I must say that this building is one of the ugliest things i´ve ever seen!
    I agree and for sure, brazilian architecture is in its crap state, mostly because of the real estate market and poor architects that don´t want to (or can) fight it, but, anyway, this building is an example that how a huge architecture office can be old fashioned, not just in aesthetics (looks like 70s or 80s buildings here in brazil) and mostly, the thinking they applied.

    In chile, we can see a shift in arch thinking last years, introdution of new concepts and technologies, but here there are the same 70s mind built everywhere. Brazilian architecture needs – and deserves – new architecture, a “superbrazilian” architecture, just like the 90s were from the dutch.

    ps1.: In my opinion, the architects did not wanted to ‘fight’ the system
    ps2.: the most impressive ‘concept’ of this building is that some of the white boxes in the facade are just fake enclosures for the small and inneficient air conditioning machines.. what a shame

  • jonathan

    sometimes being optimistic and fighting the status quo will leave us architects broke. our money comes from the clients.

    true, that this building could do better. but at least it’s making a sort of statement to be different.
    but that doesn’t mean i like the design

  • Paulo

    Simplesmente uma bosta.

  • lucas

    I´m asking to myself: what happened to brazilian architecture, at all? Until the 60s and 70s, we were the references in the south america. and now…

  • Adhitecture

    I’m agree with the most judgment that may concluded as ugly, but in order to make it look fresher some modification works still can be done to fix these dirty scene. Change the colors, put more cladding that can work with the building’s skin and bring some plants on it may dressed up this things. This way is better than kept your eyes to see inconvenient scene like this.

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  • http://www.andrealbano.com André

    Have you guys noticed that brazilians never ever lose a chance to say a lot of bad things about their own country?

    Yes, the building is ugly. Yes, it’s a big waste of space in one of the sweetest spots in the city. Yes, it could be better looking.

    But it could also be worst, it could be just another glass box in the city.

    I think the guys who designed it are bold enough to rely in old techniques and materials and come up with something unusual.

  • http://www.andrealbano.com André

    And let me correct myself.

    I don’t really think it’s ugly. Actually I look at the building itself in my way to college and I just can’t tell what I think or even what I feel. All I know is that I can’t pass by without stare for a while.