WIT Press

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Living Skins And The Reconsideration Of The Post-war Office Tower


Free (open access)





Page Range

317 - 325




952 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


S. Holmes, J. Maze & M. McGlothlin


Whether in response to the growing concerns of climate change or born instead of a fascination in the material advancements of the last decade, the architectural opportunities in sustainability are substantial and plentiful. Arguments run the gamut of professional domains, stretching across the numerous aspects of industry, manufacturing and power generation, which in turn carry the parallel disciplinary interests of architecture, engineering, the social sciences, economics and public policy. Much of the attention garnered by the sustainability movement has highlighted new buildings proper as they provide the greatest visibility. There is however an immense and relatively untapped reservoir of opportunities with the office towers of the post-war era. The earlier considerations to the benefits of natural ventilation were dismissed in favour of the idiomatic environmental control systems, vis-à-vis reliance upon mechanical systems to compensate for the discarded natural techniques, resulting in sealed work environments mapped by the rampant growth of \“sick building syndrome” nomenclature. This paper will offer a reconsideration of the otherwise overlooked building type – the post-war high-rise in a zeitgeist of passive and active environmental provisions. By exploring this typology, crafted within the greatest aspirations of its own era, the ideas of re-use and adaptation can be expanded beyond the limits of historic structures to include buildings that were once considered to be icons of technological advancement. Instead of demolishing, the notion of re-articulating the very essence of qualitative lifesupport is of an immediate and ever-present importance. Keywords: biomimicry, Florida, office tower, adaptive re-use.


biomimicry, Florida, office tower, adaptive re-use.