BEGGARS BANQUET
Paris 2009
Evolo Skyscraper Competition

 

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During XIIth century, rich merchant families from San Gimignano were exhibiting their wealth by building towers which were visible by any of the town’s inhabitant. From middle age Tuscany to recent Emirates, by XIVth century Flanders and current United States, skyscrapers remain a symbol of capitalist power.
Dubai is the new Babylon and represents a benchmark for emerging countries such as China and India. Developers’ projects grow in every cities of these countries, in order to provide for the middle and upper social classes, a comfortable and secure inside world. The dream of a socially unified autarkic world, we can observe with gated communities, could become even more extreme thanks to towers in these countries which own huge social discrepancies.
In fact, rural depopulation and demography growth already brought one billion human being to live in slums and the estimated figure for 2030 is reaching the amount of two billions. This kind of unsanitary districts has been well known through history. Charles Dickens, Emile Zola, or Max Gorky, describe in their novels these western shanty towns developed by XIXth century’s industrial revolution. However, nowadays’ world situation implies much many people and we can now observe a poverty globalization in new South American, African and Asian countries.
This new amount of slums’ population reaches inexorably to an increase of density and, therefore, to vertical constructions. We can thus imagine an aggregate of habitations, one upon another, developping an unstable vertical favela. When developers promote highest levels as the climax of ivory towers, the vertical favela, being technically limited in its circulation, brings more value to the ground as a connexion with the world.
In conclusion, Robert Silverberg and James Graham Ballard were too naive for imagining high rises where every social classes would live. Capitalism, rather than placing the poorest as the system’s basis, prefers to see growing autarkic vertical favelas from Rio de Janeiro to Nairobi, from Gaza to Mumbai. Result is an ambiguous beauty, both fascinating and terrifying.

Léopold Lambert / Architect[e], Editor & Writer
leopold.funambulistATgmail.com