Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Field Blades
Razvan Ghilic Micu and Jia Xin Chum

Princeton University
Competition: CTBUH 2nd Annual Student Competition - 2012 Reimagining Tall

Building overall
Building lobby
Exterior Walkway
Building section
Apartment Zoning Diagram
A New Building Typology
Inclinator Logics
Elevation Diagrams

Field Blades
The tall building typology has undoubtedly risen out of the unprecedented technological advancements of the late 19th century.  Furthermore, the tall vertical tower has evolved into a self contained autonomous entity as a way of dealing with the constraints of urban land use and property. Over a century, both architects and engineers have focused on the race for conquering the sky, building taller, slimmer, stronger, more energy efficient, but never challenging the initial assumptions of the tall building.

Meanwhile, over the past decade many cities around the world have been building forests of tall residential buildings, replicating the undisputed tectonic model of the office tower, creating an alienating and undesirable urbanism – the tall city block. This symptomatic condition is yet to be addressed seriously by the discipline.

The Field Blades project is aimed at reformulating the question of building tall, while intensifying the urban habitat and social dimension of residential developments.

Lattice networks, not cul-de-sacs. The elevator, regardless of its speed and vertical efficiency is socially unsustainable – what is the experience of riding inside an elevator cab for 20 seconds between the underground parking and the hallway of your apartment?
The inclinator is not only as efficient in speed, but also it connects points across the site, across building, across communities, while offering a completely new way of engaging the neighborhood,.

Thin apartment blades, not bulky core-and-shell stacks. In a traditional tower, apartments are arrayed around a core, therefore pushing the geometry of the envelope into a series of planar corrugations for light and air intake. Additionally, many of the apartments facing inside the block rarely have sunlight. The thin blades, afford end-to-end apartments of 8 to 16 meters, whose ventilation is purely passive. All apartments have sunlight throughout the day, given the N-S orientation of the buildings.

Field , not stack. The field condition of the urban space, with its dynamic networks of infrastructure and program is never achieved in a traditional tower, because of the inherent hierarchical stacking on a small footprint. Mixed-use attempts are equally unsuccessful at achieving consequential improvements.

The public program is not confined solely to the podium, the leisure not only to the penthouse gym. The inclinator system and the outdoor sidewalks linking the apartments to the elevated transit hubs are sprinkling the entire development with moments of public space, retail, dining, community programs and gardens. The connections overcome the physical boundaries of buildings, establishing an elevated field condition.

Resourceful reliance not wasteful autonomy. Currently the urban landscape is full of structurally autonomous towers tightly packed together. We propose that our main new system fulfill a double roll:
The Circulation Stairs and Platforms externally brace each blade against lateral loads.
The inclinators, built as part of the tower infrastructure (just as traditional vertical cores
would), stabilize the  blades together like a large truss across the site.

This method eliminates many of the redundant and wasteful over-engineered systems at the level of the individual tower.