Whispers in the global architecture community have become louder with respect to the notion of metropolitan architecture losing its ‘soul’ and integrity in an attempt to stand out from the crowd.
‘Zombie buildings,’ to borrow a term from Canadian architect Gair Williams, are increasingly becoming a point of discussion among major industry professionals. Williams described the ‘zombie aesthetic’ as buildings with more style than substance, structures that rely too heavily on high performance glass. Meanwhile, both Frank Gehry and Australia’s top architect Lawrence Nield described it as architecture informed by non-cohesive egotism. Either way, buildings without soul, artistry or context seem to surmise the founding qualities of the zombie building.
A new skyscraper development model by architectural firm Einberg Fraser that aims to mass-produce major architectural feats in through a factory-based process of prefabrication would appear to threaten a zombie building surge. The ‘one mold for all developments’ would seem to exemplify the soulless, commercial design mentality that has become so reviled.
According to RMIT architect Phillip Goad, however, that is not the case. Goad believes the mass production of housing and other such developments is a long-standing dream within the industry, with this kind of development system heralding a new era of modern city development.
”Unitised building is something the construction industry needs to embrace,” he says.
Einberg Fraser says its predesigned building system, developed using ‘Kilk’ technologies developed by architect Nonda Katsalidis, will enable true metropolitan design and development efficiencies.
The system has the ability to factory-produce anything from single houses to high-rose apartment buildings, with four apartment blocks in Melbourne already developed by using this innovative technology.
While development speed and efficiency come with a wide range of invaluable benefits, the questions turn to whether this kind of ‘off-the-shelf’ architecture will add to what many architects have labeled boring and soulless regions, whether architecture will become less relevant with a loss of uniqueness or whether this will actually fight the issues relating to cohesive modern design.