The Mock Firms model aims to help facilitate the formation and function of simulated architectural design firms by collegiate and secondary school students. Entering in its 4th year, the Chicago-based Mock Firms Architectural Competition is already highly regarded on the landscape of student-based design competitions. — Chicago Architecture Today
Students Brian Ng, Michael Zhang and Grant Cogan of The Danish Institute for Study Abroad and California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo have taken second place in Chicago Architecture Today’s 2011 International Mock Firm Skyscraper Design Challenge with their skyscraper proposal: “Reconcile: The Stensta Tower”
Below is their concept proposal brief:
Skyscrapers today represent social inaccessibility and commercial obsession, completely disengaged from any sense of ethical responsibility. How can the tower, a source of unaccepted scrutiny in Sweden, become good for the people?
In reigniting the social question of architecture, how can the tower reconfigure itself into something that reconciles sites of conflict, catalyzing social sustainability?
The biggest challenge with designing a skyscraper for the city of Stockholm is the “towerphobia” of Scandinavia. Any protrusion in the low, homogenous skyline of Stockholm is seen as a display of power; in the past, the spires of religious buildings had the greatest height while currently, midrise commercial buildings control the skyline. For our skyscraper in Stockholm, we propose to give the height and the power to the people of Stockholm. The dynamics of the city of Stockholm represents both the success and the failures of the social welfare state. While the majority of residents enjoy an unmatched level of equality and democracy, a dividing line for governmental aid has been drawn between immigrant “new Swedes” and “native” Swedes. This tension is most clear in the neighborhoods of Tensta and Spånga situated in the northwest region of Stockholm. These two suburbs border each other but are demographically and politically separate, segregated neighborhoods like these can be found all throughout Sweden, from Gothenburg to Malmö
By placing a skyscraper here, we can use the imbued symbolic and monetary power of a skyscraper to connect the two neighborhoods and heal the rift in the site. The Stensta Tower, a reconciliator of the cultural rift between Tensta and Spånga, will mix commercial program with cultural and educational program that people from both districts want and need: a public K-8 school, a mosque, a theater, a public square and many others. In addition, local icons including the Tensta Konsthall, a progressive art museum, and the Spånga IP, an indoor sports facility, are also relocated into the tower to act as the base and the apex. Formally, the tower reaches out at the base to each neighborhood in order to create a new direct path across the dividing park between Tensta and Spånga. This formal and programmatic motion disintegrates the segregated borders of each community, creating the fused, united, reconciliated, and diversified disctrict that is the Stensta Tower.
Fluid spaces and circulation work in conjunction with the distributed program so that functions are not contained in the caked and closed floors found in a typical skyscraper. Various sizes of office modules are also accommodated for in the Stensta Tower. This allows for offices ranging in size and scope from local start-ups to global corporations to use the tower. These office modules work in conjunction with the distributed program, mixing in such a way that a single company cannot dominate the tower. The distributed program of the towers naturally breaks up the space in such a way that the higher, more attractive spaces can only accommodate smaller local offices, ensuring that even the office workers in the tower are a part of the local context.
In considering an atypical, rifted site that activates the skyscraper’s social responsibility rather than commercial efficiency, a new typology emerges. The Stensta Tower now cements itself not as a sculptural, inaccessible icon, but rather a very necessary bridge in the new social infrastructure of Stockholm.
Thus the building acts as a social integrator, drawing both “new” and “native” Swedes through the abundance of attractive spaces and functions and allow for an unprecedented amount of interaction between the two segregated groups. With this amount of interaction, we hope that the residents of Tensta and Spånga will discover that they have more in common than in difference, that they are more alike than incompatible, that there is no difference between “new” and “native.”