Innovation shouldn’t lead to replication

When I first heard about the Dancing Towers I thought that some lunatic structural engineer might have designed a building that could actually dance. Like a great big concrete and steel version of the Big Mouth Billy Bass fish, with the ability to sway to the beat of ‘Take me to the River’.

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By  Sean Cronin Published  June 24, 2006

|~||~||~|When I first heard about the Dancing Towers I thought that some lunatic structural engineer might have designed a building that could actually dance. Like a great big concrete and steel version of the Big Mouth Billy Bass fish, with the ability to sway to the beat of ‘Take me to the River’. The idea isn’t as wacky as it may sound. All super tall structures sway anyway, in roughly the same, imperceptible way that someone standing at the back of a James Blunt concert might. The only reason engineers spend vast amounts of time and money on controlling the acceleration of that sway is that it can produce a feeling of mild discomfort and nausea - again, a bit like standing at the back of a James Blunt concert. It’s why the residential elements of super tall buildings are generally preferred at the bottom rather than the top. But that’s all academic, because the Dancing Towers don’t really dance. I was crushed to discover the name merely referred to the unique dog-legged design of two buildings twisting around each other. I say ‘unique’, but that perhaps is not the best term to use. Because it seems there may be more ‘dancing tower’ conceptual designs knocking around the offices of architects in the region at the moment, than there are architects who at some point in their lives have owned a black polo neck jumper. By curious coincidence, the designs for the Dancing Towers were released on the same day that another architect was talking to me about the proposed ‘dancing towers’ of Abu Dhabi. Two separate projects, with different backers, different architects, different developers, but both with a pair of never-built-before dancing towers sharing similarly curved elevations. Clearly architects feed off ideas from each other, and that is a healthy, creative process. But when does inspiration become imitation? In a place that can boast designs of such excellence as Burj Dubai, Emirates Towers and the Burj Al Arab — it is not easy to come up with something impressively new. These are all very hard acts to follow. The UAE is home to some of the most impressive examples of modern architectural innovation to be found anywhere on the planet. It would be a shame if that innovation became replication.||**||

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