Sing the Body Electric: Energy Efficiency for European Businesses


Whereas the office buildings of the 80s were fast track jobs for British and Japanese developers, in the 90s Foster was able to build energy-conscious working spaces for German and French public clients. In these slowly developed commissions he regained, after the bubble economy of the 80s, the lost thread of his 1974 unbuilt project for environment friendly offices in a Norwegian wood. The private client and the Fulleresque capsules have been replaced, at Duisburg and Bordeaux, by public agencies and conventional structures; but the concern with energy efficiency remains. At the Microelectronics Park of Duisburg, the renewal of the Ruhr is spearheaded by a small ‘green city’ formed by a ship-shaped Business Promotion Centre, a cylindrical Telematic Forum and the low volumes of a Microelectronics Centre, with its curved roof interrupted by wedge-shaped glazed atriums; the complex uses sophisticated energy control systems, but its virtue lies also in the tense transparent curves that embody a luminous promise of social and urban rebirth. In the offices for Electricité de France in Bordeaux, energy consumption is reduced through thermal mass, natural ventilation and cedarwood shades that give the building a calm and cool climate friendly monumentality...[+]

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