CCC Cloud Culture City
London 2014 Organic Skyscraper Competition, Special Mention

Project Team:
El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn
Shuqi He, Yu-Hsiang Lin, Jia Weng

Cloud Culture City explores the skyscraper as the form and program of an urban culture of information by deploying digital technologies and the capital of social networking to spur collaboration opportunities in the city. The project capitalizes on multiple meanings of the term “culture.” On one hand, the term perpetuates its biological significance as the cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc., in an artificial medium containing nutrients, and in conditions suitable for growth. On the other hand, the modern concept of culture, as framed by Samuel von Pufendorf, “refers to all the ways in which human beings overcome their original barbarism, and through artifice, become fully human.” Culture is also big business. It is at the root of many urban regeneration schemes that connect between cultural production, urban concentration, and the road to economic growth, all wrapped up with centers of learning, home to museums, libraries, and galleries.

Can the skyscraper operationalize its power as the symbolic artifice par excellence to programmatically intensify such culture-programs all while organically growing into the clouds and beyond, a 21st century variant of Jack and the Beanstalk? The project proposes an organic cloud city, which grows in time by aggregating different programs, forms and scales around a single vertical structure. The skyscraper is composed of two main elements: a central cruciform tower in compression and a series of peripheral tensile towers. The compression tower is the structural and mechanical core of the project. It contains elevators, stairs, mechanical rooms, shafts and storage spaces. Such liberates the tensile towers to be pure activity spaces. They are of different forms and scales and can be grouped to form larger floor plate sizes or kept independent. The flexibility of the project arises from the different floor type combination horizontally or vertically. Responding to different events in the city, floors can be added or removed as a series of prefabricated floors and partition walls and facades.

The flexible city pulls up its activities sectionally, from the Shoreditch station, through a ground level that houses the amphitheater and a neighborhood plaza, and into the cloud, offering views of the London skyline. The artifice is taken apart as it approaches the ground, until there is little solid object left. The collage of fragments appears always to be intentionally unfinished. In other words, there is no definite meaning attached to the organic skyscraper but rather a contextual currency that choreographs notions of time and space.