The Pre-Fabricated Skyscraper & The Clean-Tech Utopia: Two Game-Changing, Sustainable Proposals in China

How can the city be reinvented to save the world? Chinese business magnate Zhang Yue and Finnish professor Eero Paloheimo are two men with very contrasting answers to this loaded question. Zhang Yue’s answer puts trust in pre-fabricated, high-density vertical development, whereas Paloheimo envisions a built-from-scratch, clean-tech sprawling utopia. Their grand ideas, met with both skepticism and excitement, are documented in a new film by Anna-Karin Grönroos. To watch the trailer and learn more about the bold proposals, continue after the break.

Why It’s Time to Give Up on Prefab

Destruction of Pruit-Igoe. Image Courtesy of US Department of and Urban Development

This article by Chris Knapp, the Director of Built-Environment Practiceoriginally appeared on Australian Design Review as “The End Of Prefabrication”. Knapp calls for the end of as a driver for design, pointing out its century-long failure to live up to its promise, as well as newer technology’s ability to “mass produce difference”.

Prefabrication – there is not another word in the current lexicon of architecture that more erroneously asserts positive change. For more than a century now, this industrial strategy of production applied to building has yielded both an unending source of optimism for architecture, and equally, a countless series of disappointments. This is a call for the end of prefabrication.

Read on after the break

AD Classics: Habitat 67 / Moshe Safdie

Photo by Wladyslaw via Wikimedia Commons

Habitat 67, designed by the Israeli-Canadian architect at the World Exposition of 1967, was originally intended as an experimental solution for high-quality housing in dense urban environments. Safdie explored the possibilities of modular units to reduce housing costs and allow for a new housing typology that could integrate the qualities of a suburban home into an urban high-rise.

Reflecting on the project’s significance in “A look back at habitat ’67” Safdie stated that “Habitat ‘67 is really two ideas in one. One is about prefabrication, and the other is about rethinking apartment-building design in the new paradigm.” [1]

More after the break…

Event: Pratt Explores the Importance of Cold War Era Pre-Fabricated Building Systems

Housing Prototype Systems; Courtesy of Pedro Alonso

Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture will present “ COOL digital,” an exhibition of 20 scaled prototypes of modernist, pre-fabricated, and globally-distributed era housing systems that were created using contemporary 3D printing technologies (opening reception 2/18 at 6:15, details below). The exhibition will investigate architectural modernism and its global influence and will connect with contemporary prototype pre-fabrication methods and digital research in housing and design. A symposium that explores the technical, aesthetic, and political aspects of prototyping and pre-construction in architecture will be held tonight in conjunction with the exhibition.

Continue reading for more details…

Pharrell to Collaborate with Zaha Hadid

Hip-Hop artist Pharrell is used to collaborating with big names – Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and now? Zaha Hadid.

According to an interview with Hypebeast, the artist has decided to continue his dabble into the design world (he’s written a book and designed chairs in the past) by working on a home with the Pritzker Prize-winning architect:

Pharrell: “There’s a collaboration I’m working with , we’re touring around with the idea of a prefab for a house.

Hypebeast: Is that still at the planning stages or are you guys looking to erect something soon?

Pharell, enigmatically: “Well, we’re going to see something through.”

Via GreatSpaces and Hypebeast 

VIDEO: Dwell Presents Jens Risom’s Island Home

If you’re at all immersed in the design world, you already know the name of Danish-American furniture designer . And, if you know , you most certainly know the mid-century, house he designed and built on an isolated island 13 miles off the coast of New England.

If you don’t know it – now’s the time to get acquainted. The gorgeous summer home – which famously graced the pages of LIFE Magazine in 1968, has recently been featured by Dwell in a video.

The house, which has stood on Block Island for 45 years with relatively little renovation, despite the island’s notoriously powerful gales of wind, defies the stereotype that pre-fabricated buildings can’t be built to last (or beautifully designed).  Indeed, Risom only attempted the venture because of the “personal freedom” that pre-fabrication afforded him. As he explains: “Architecture, to me, is the most beautiful of the arts. But I watched my father [an architect] struggle with the challenges, what was to me an enormous drawback: The architect did not fully drive the end product. I always knew that I wanted to design, but only [if I could] create products over which I had total control.”

More on this extraordinary home and its designer, after the break…

World’s Tallest Skyscraper Back On Track To Be Built in 90 Days

Courtesy of

Despite reports that construction firm Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a subsidiary of Broad Group, could not complete its 220-story Sky City tower in 90 days, the company’s senior VP Juliet Jiang has announced that the skyscraper “will go on as planned with the completion of five storeys a day.”

Thus, rather than in seven months, the world’s tallest tower (838 m; 2,750 ft) will be finished in three – topping out at the end of March 2013.

As we’ve discussed before here on ArchDaily, the tower could truly be revolutionary in China; Broad Group’s 95% prefabricated modular technology, which is responsible for the incredible rate of construction, is also radically environmentally-friendly, earthquake-safe, and cost-effective. In fact, Sky City, designed by engineers who worked on the Burj Khalifa, will cost a tenth of that famous skyscraper (only $1,500 per square meter) – and take a twentieth of the time to build.

More info on the world’s tallest tower, after the break…

AD Classics: Steel Pre-Fab Houses / Donald Wexler

© Juergen Nogai

For Donald Wexler modern architecture is simply the right way to design. One of the true fundamental Modernist, Donald Wexler began his career working in the office of . It was here that he became a true pragmatist, balking at any ideological rational for modernism and instead argue that his pursuit of modern design derives from its responsiveness to dynamic environmental, technological, and material conditions. Adaptability and flexibility, prominent aspects of Wexler’s personality, are values inherent in his conception of architectural space, systems, and materials.