Responsive Formgiving: Redefining High-Density Urban Living

Session: Track C: Towers and the Challenge of Context: Heritage

Brett RhodeKristopher SwansonProject image

Brett Rhode
Founding Partner, Rhode Partners

Kristopher Swanson
Principal, DCI Engineers

Tower design should not be derived simply from conventional engineering and construction practices, but rather a collaboration of architectural design and engineering to bring ingenuity to high-density urban living. The collaboration manifests itself into an elegant composition expressive of the culture of a diverse and dynamic City.

The prevalent practice in the vertical, mixed-use building typology is the simplistic stacking of the same or similar floor plates until the desired yield is achieved. The inherent problem in this approach is that it does not afford a diversity in its composition, if one dwelling type faces north and has a small balcony, then every dwelling in that stack must have the same limitations. However, by rethinking the simple structure and acknowledging the diversity of a City and its people, the program of a multi-family tower reveals itself as a form dynamic and provocatively iconic.

The form of the Independent is derived when a typical residential floor plate is stacked and divided into tiers which are mirrored and rotated around a core offset in each floor plate. The result is an abrupt co-mingling of differing unit typologies, merging the diverse population into a highly-dense, yet livable and vibrant vertical community. The undulating massing of what appears to be a series of precariously placed boxes, are highlighted by single story volumes dynamically cantilevered in an expression of the communal functions of the tower. The dramatic composition produced an iconic gesture on Austin’s burgeoning skyline. At its base, the tower deliberately provides connectivity to the urban fabric as well as the neighboring park network.