Urbanization is a mega-trend: Never before have cities been growing as rapidly. Urban developer and architect Kees Christiaanse tells us how we will live tomorrow. He has researched this, among other things, in the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore for ETH Zurich.
Professor Christiaanse, you have offices in different locations in the world, in Europe and in Asia. Which architectural buildings are the most futuristic?
There are many! In Singapore I find the WOHA building extremely interesting from an urban development and architectural point of view. The 200 meter high “plant” has façades which are overgrown and semi-transparent. In Cupertino in California, the energy-autonomous Apple campus has a futuristic look. However, there are some issues with the 460 meter wide UFO in the landscape: It is annular – a symbol of completeness. And above all it is only accessible by car via an underground car park. The Kalkbreite Genossenschaft in Zurich is completely different. You feel like you are outdoors in the stores and restaurants on the first floor. The structure has many different uses, and a roof landscape is flourishing on top.
At the WOHA building, the green spaces attract the attention. Are eco-utopias being realized in the skyscraper era?
The so-called vertical gardens have a positive effect on the living climate. They can have a positive effect on the climate situation of buildings with regard to cooling and protection from the sun. However, “real” green structures are required in order to have sufficient quality. This means having a thick layer of soil and real trees. I favor urban construction structures that have developed over the years – or new structures developed from a robust basic design.