The launch of the 2020 educational offer of YACademy –YAC’s program to open its network of the most prestigious studios in the world for the most deserving young designers– is the right moment also to narrate some of the experiences the students had before starting their collaborations with the main characters of the contemporary architectural world.
Namely, some designers attending the course in Architecture for Exhibition in 2018 had the opportunity to support the design team of Carlo Ratti Associati to refine the project for “The Mile”, the innovative project for a mile-tall skyscraper. The initiative involved the students working on the details of the project and the MIR, a team of artists that made some of the most impressive images of projects in the last decade, also greatly contributed to it. Here follows an interview made by YACademy students and some images of the project developed by the working team and the MIR.
Interview to Carlo Ratti
Carlo Ratti Associati is a professional practice that deals with the connection between technology and architecture. How does this interaction happen? How can technology contribute to design new buildings?
Originally, the connection is based on a common goal: creating places and solutions able to meet needs. Innovation in our cities has always gone hand in hand with technological innovation. The last century raised the stakes of the challenge by introducing the 4.0 industrial revolution. This provides new hints about the way we can use digital information to support design processes. This involves both the design technique and its related conditions. People’s needs are now decipherable and quantifiable starting from objective data that we create with our smartphones on a daily basis.
How can the study of Big Data influence the world we live in? What are the future scenarios of architecture and the city?
Big Data enables us to have access to an unprecedented quantity of information concerning our behaviors and choices. If used responsibly, it is a valuable resource. For example, with CRA and MIT Senseable City Lab projects are simultaneously designed with traditional design, technology and digital information. Just think of the redesign of the Foundation Fondazione Agnelli where each individual can modulate its microclimate as a “bubble” meeting its needs. Or let’s think of an urban scale. Dynamic Street enabled us to design a road that can be reconfigured over time to create different scenarios throughout the day according to citizens’ needs.
The design procedure starts from the conception of the building, then deals with the creation of imagines and eventually with its communication. How are these stages connected to each other?
There is always a clear common goal that effectively connects skills. The initial idea is closely linked to a suitable structural pattern that is developed and enhanced with further synergy. The right coordination of skills makes the final project easier to be communicated. Moreover, it enables the project to be consistent with both initial goals and achieved results.
The “The Mile” project is an extremely innovative project. Where did the idea come from and how did it develop?
The concept has to deal with the idea of a vertical park. Imagine you take Central Park, turn it vertical, roll it and twirl it around an axis. From a structural point of view, we took several options into account. We thought of a tower system with a vertical pattern to deal with oscillations. We imagined a compressed reticular pattern with an increased use of steel. We also thought of a pre-compressed structure with a system of tie-rods similar to the one used for bridges. Eventually, we came up with the idea of a structural shaft pattern composed by pre-stressed cables that enable a gradual evolution of the park from base to apex. The project combines an ambitious structure with an approach of integration with nature. Therefore, the initial geometric operation became a mix of experiences that have been changed and enhanced with ecological elements and activities that are consistent with the context.
From a structural point of view, how does it deal with the challenge of height?
With its remarkable height, The Mile is twice the height of today’s tallest building on the Earth. To design a building which such exceptional height, we created an innovative and lightweight structure based on a structural, 20-meter-wide shaft kept in compression and secured through a net of pre-stressed cables.
It is possible to reach the Sky Deck in many ways: by using ramps, lifts and capsules. How do the different ascent methods become an experience themselves?
The Sky Path is the ascent path from base to apex to get to the Sky Deck. It offers several options: lifts situated next to the central pillar, the staircase twirling around it and the capsules orbiting around the tower. These solutions have been designed in order to ensure a diversified use of the building at different times. The lifts and the staircase enable pedestrians and bicycles to quickly reach the top. The capsules run on different tracks allowing visitors to enjoy a slower experience. The interior of each capsule was designed in different ways to provide users with different experiences. There is the observation capsule where the images projected on the glass enable visitors to enjoy a guided tour of the city. There are also the SPA capsule, the restaurant capsule and the meeting capsule.
The Sky Park is a vertical park on the building. Where did this idea come from and how are natural elements combined with the other components of the building?
The Sky Park idea is based on the concept of a traditional park that has always been considered a vital symbol of the quality of urban life. It is like turning a park vertical with a geometric operation. The base of the tower becomes a park ascending along with the building through a metal structure. The structure integrates with further functional and spatial elements. The concept is also based on different trees and greenery. Species were selected according to altitude in order to create the final configuration of the park.