In Conversation

In Conversation
11/08/2016 , by , in Interview Old

In an exclusive interview with Architect Reza Kabul

The very famous 96 iconic tower at Colombo, Sri Lanka has been dedicated to the Sri Lankan cricketers of the 1996 World Cup. Could you explain the conceptualization behind the tower?

In honor of their victory at the 1996 Cricket World Cup, the Sri Lankan government had gifted land in Colombo to the 14 player team. The 96 Iconic Tower is designed in the shape of a trophy, with a ball balanced between four bats, commemorates the achievements of the Sri Lankan cricketers. The mixed-use project is an amalgamation of residential units with retail spaces, commercial offices, public entertainment zones, an indoor cricket academy, a 360 degree observatory, and a specialty restaurant. Despite the various uses and users stacked vertically, each has been provided individual and independent functioning. Designated parking areas, different access elevators and lobbies, and independent services ensure minimal overlap between the different users. The 96 Iconic Tower has a total of 34 elevators, including two double-decker elevators for the observatory. Standing at 363m, 96 Iconic Tower is 211m taller than the current tallest World Trade Center in Sri Lanka.

Most of your projects relate to the contemporary style of Architecture. On the contrary, how do you consider heritage conservation projects? Tell us about the challenges you faced in restoring the 100 year old Iranian Mosque.

Heritage conservation projects are a huge responsibility. The challenge lies in understanding the original architecture and planning. We undertook the responsibility and challenge of refurbishing the 100 year old Shiraz Mosque in 2003. The wear and tear of nearly a century had run down the structure of the Iranian mosque. A huge fissure ran through the plot, resulting in cracked walls and steps. The drainage of the hauz (a pond meant for mandatory ablutions before going for prayers) was also affected due to the fissure. We repaired the damage and clad the two feet thick walls of the mosque with onyx tiles brought from Iran. The wooden trusses above the walls were also fixed; the roof was stitched with steel plates and covered with Mangalore tiles. A retaining wall was built adjacent to the hauz, and the pond was recast in RCC to cover the cracked areas. The entrance, with four minarets, was clad in baked ceramic tiles. Most materials including the onyx, the baked ceramic tiles, and accessories have been imported from Iran. I consider it a great honor to get a chance to work on such a project. How would you describe your fascination towards high-rise or tall buildings? The thought behind growth has always been bigger and higher. The fascination behind high-rises is to grow towards the sky; the motto is to beat the better of your best.

All the tall structures you have designed, intend to create landmarks in their respective cities. Not everyone gets the opportunity to frame or design the skyline for a place. How do you look at this?

Throughout history, cities have been defined by their great buildings. Right from the Greek and Roman times, whenever a city has achieved something or won a war, a monument has been built in its honor, taller than the previous tallest, to commemorate the victory. Today as cities grow, these landmark high-rises become victories in themselves. For Dubai, it is the Burj Khalifa; the Taipie 101 for Taipie, the Shanghai Tower for Shanghai whereas the Guangzhou International Finance Center for Guangzhou. Our upcoming mixed-use high-rise 96 Iconic Tower follows suite, commemorating the Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup Winners. I believe that all tall buildings are icons in themselves, and together they build the identity of a city.

Steel and concrete have high carbon footprints. And there is a new proposal of increasing the use of timber in construction to reduce the carbon footprint in large scale buildings. Our readers would want to know your thoughts on this.

While timber may have a lower carbon footprint as compared to steel and concrete, it is not the appropriate material for high-rise buildings. According to the statutory construction laws in California, a city known for its stick construction, the use of timber is allowed only for a structure that is four storey tall. Beyond that, it is considered unsafe, especially with regard to fire safety. There are however, materials in the market that are sustainable solutions and have lower carbon footprints as compared to steel and concrete.

High rise buildings and skyscrapers of today are prone to endless curtain wall glazing these days. Please give your opinion on this, from an Architect’s perspective and a user’s perspective.

While several consider glass to be a cosmetic feature of a structure that makes a building look modern and high-tech, the use of glass in architectural façades is a preferred option. Glass reduces the weight on the foundation, making the building lighter as compared to constructing walls. It offers a wider unobstructed view of the surroundings, and increases the availability and use of natural light indoors. There are a variety of variants available which are sustainable and offer high insulation, heat and sound resistance, as well reduce the amount and intensity of glare on the surrounding buildings.

Source: Zingy Homes

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