Next Project

the informational office. river clyde . glasgow

Part 2 Project 2000
Andrew Capewell
Manchester School of Architecture, UK
the informational office.
river clyde . glasgow

We cannot retreat from technological advance: sustainability must and can only come from the embracing of and the application of appropriate technology onto the new cultural paradigms that are appearing. Office Culture (culture - an ideology placed on technology - koolhaus) is at an abyss - new information and communication technologies are changing office practice. At the heart of the changes imposed by this revolution is the notion of 'virtual space' as a separate entity to the 'real space' we inhabit. This poses the problem of having to define some kind of transition between these two greatly differing worlds; Where traditionally architecture was about addressing the connection of man and nature, now it must also simultaneously connect the real and the virtual.

Conceptually, this embraces the notion of bio-climatic, sustainable architecture, where buildings work in alliance with, rather than against the natural forces present within the environment. Paradoxically, the virtual world exerts forces upon the real world, while at the same time remaining fundamentally disconnected. The building must now address how such disjunctive aspects of work can operate in both the socially interactive local environment of the office building, and the global connection nodes afforded by the internet.

The nature of the internet itself must be examined as an contextural force generator, just as the external environment. Though inherently man-made, the vastness of the internet is not under the control of any single body or organisation, meaning "…the system will proliferate out of anyone or anything's control - like a vast eco-system.". (Susan Blackmore - 'The Meme Machine')

However, as we begin to understand the nature of these new forces and how they impact upon our world, we can always find ways of controlling what are seemingly chaotic systems. Both the environment and cyberspace generate effects, seemingly chaotic and random in appearance; yet there are "…deep and beautiful laws governing that unpredictable flow." (Kaufmman: 1995).

Once the nature of work is governed by such fractal patterns, time and space become continuous, liquid in nature. The informational office becomes a transactional landscape, defined by these governing rules, and the representation of these forces is encapsulated in the architecture of the office; at once affording connection between man and environment, real and virtual.

Andrew Capewell, Manchester School of Architecture 2000

Andrew Capewell

Andrew Capewell
Bioclimatic Architecture Unit:
Synergistics Division
Manchester School of Architecture.

This year the synergistics division has investigated two key propositions: the disembodiment of time in globalised world and cornucopian solutions for sustainability. Disorganised capitalism (Lash and Urry, 1994) is ushering major changes in time, history and memory. Time can be seen as instantaneous (anything faster than the blink of an eye) or evolutionary (anything longer than a lifetime). 'Embodied time'- the natural time of days, seasons and years, is being eroded and with it our sense of place. Bioclimatic Architecture is an architecture of ecological time and, is seemly at odds with time's disembodiment. However, the Unit's view is that Bioclimatics and the use of high technology can provide the connection between our bodied time and the new times of global capitalism.

Capewell's vehicle, a building for a multinational advertising and marketing agency stands on the Georgian dock frontage in Glasgow, bearing the brunt of the vicious weather that rushes down the Clyde: This is a frontier. The building has three interfaces between the virtual, the city and nature.

The internet, made possible by the measurement of time in nanoseconds, has compressed the space we call the World: we can press a button and confer with colleagues in Tokyo and California without leaving our seat. As immersion into cyberspace becomes possible, where will these transactions take place - how will we reconcile ourselves with rapidly changing time-zones, cultures and places? This time-disembodied work of global business tied in with alien time-zones meets its opposite at the south façade. Here, the evolutionary timescape of the signal and noise of local climate and weather impacts on the building, offering opportunity and threat,

The development of this extraordinary skin, a beautifully detailed and complex series of solar-tracking photovoltaic 'scales' over a user-controlled inner skin is essential to the building's survival on the site: taming, deflecting and using the raw energy of the estuary. The system works in conjunction with top-down ventilation using wind-towers, motorised lightshelves, a contoured floor slab and a dynamic series of internet pods that communicate events to the public atrium and beyond to the city.

Greg Keeffe Unit Leader
Manchester School of Architecture
0161 247 6959.

• Page Hits: 3698         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001