Segments in this Video

Purpose of Towers (03:18)


Architect Dominique Perrault claims the demand for more towers is high in an age when space has become limited. Architecture critic Francoise Fromonot explains towers take up very little space and create more; the Eiffel Tower was the first tall tower of the French Revolution; Bertrand Lemoine engineer sees beauty in the tower because it was built without utility in mind.

Architects Motivation (05:39)

Towers are similar to cathedrals according to architect Jean-Paul Viguier. Building towers higher and higher is a very egotistical act. Architect Jean Nouvel gives a speech to many young architects about his now famous Torre Glòries tower in Barcelona.

Skyscrapers in Barcelona (05:11)

Two towers were built in Barcelona to symbolically open the city to the Mediterranean Sea; the architect of the National Library in Paris, Dominique Perrault, explains his architectural style is conceptual and abstract, not expressive. Half of the world's towers are now built with mixed materials, meaning both concrete and steel.

City Planning (02:13)

Rapid urbanization in Japan has led to a land shortage crisis and densely overpopulated cities. Japanese and European architects seek ways to maximize space by building eco-friendly towers. Europe's architectural goals are to attract new populations and efficiently control traffic.

Economics and Architecture (05:46)

Hong Kong is Asia’s symbol of economic growth, and as land prices become more and more expensive, architect Lam Wo Hei has found the solution to maximize sites developmental potential. Great density within a city means an increase in height of buildings; in Asia, architects debate how to keep towers economical.

Eco-Friendly Engineering (04:50)

Shanghai is the world’s most energy consuming city; architect Jacques Ferrier designed an ecological tower called Hypergreen. Ferrier explains the environmental aspects of the tower, and Fromonot explains towers need to be built for multiple activities; a typical New York skyscraper is a miniature city housing several different services.

Zoning in New York (09:04)

New York City’s zoning codes are sometimes changed if an architect is able to convince several panels of the necessity of their building project, and the benefits it will have on the community as a whole. Ferrier explains Paris has stopped evolving as a city and has become a museum.

Towers in Paris (10:13)

The Grand Arch was built by a Danish architect; Paul Andreu claims the strength of the tower is in the form and not the height of the structure. La Defense, a large business district outside of the Paris city limits, consists of densely constructed towers. La Defense has become an architectural testing ground for new forms.

Future of Chinese Architecture (04:09)

Near Canton, China architect Herve Tordjman and engineer Jean-Marc Yeager are building two helicoidal towers each over 520 meters high. Engineer Lemoine says the race to build higher is one for prestige. The Gansu twin towers will be the first of their kind built since the 911 terrorist attack.

Credits: Tomorrow's and Today's Towers (00:45)

Credits: Tomorrow's and Today's Towers

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Tomorrow's and Today's Towers

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Building higher, ever higher, is the culmination of an ancient dream, from the mythical Tower of Babel to the Eiffel Tower. A landmark feature for more than two centuries in the cityscapes of New York, Chicago, Rio, or Sao Paulo, towers have now reached Asia, where they are beating all records for height. A building more than 3,200 feet high is being planned in Malaysia. Far from going out of fashion, this architectural challenge has become the essential element of the contemporary urban landscape. Its current omnipresence can be explained partly by the need to gain space in cities that are more and more satured, but not entirely. The absolute symbol of economic growth, the tower is the prerogative of the superpowers, but in countries that are developing, they are an assertion of their success. In Paris or New York, towers crowd the business districts. In Dubai and Shanghai, these giants of concrete and steel have radically transformed the shoreline. Everywhere, architects rival each other in originality: round, triangular, twisted, cigar-shaped, military shell-shaped, or even in the form of an icy peak… All have their special place in the typology of modern architecture, which encourages research into new, ever-stronger, and lighter materials. On the frontier where architecture, urbanism, economics, and sociology meet, this documentary does the tour of the towers of the world, with commentaries from their engineers and some of the most significant of contemporary architects, including Jean Nouvel, Christian de Partzamparc, Paul Andreu, and Norman Foster.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL150305

ISBN: 978-1-64347-702-2

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.