Mark Hemel – Supermodel: Canton Tower, China

Lecture date: 2013-11-21

Film, Book-presentation and an interactive discussion

At 610 metres, the TV Tower in Guangzhou designed by the Dutch architects Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit is one of the world’s tallest buildings. Construction of this spectacular tower, was exceptionally complex owing to its free form, tremendous height and welter of facilities including observation decks, conference rooms, shops and cinemas. Additionally, the location required that it should be able to withstand earthquakes and typhoons.

Existing legislation and working methods failed to satisfy a building of this size and height. The chosen methodology, which was developed while construction proceeded, can be cited as an example of how to handle new projects of this megascale. Supermodel reports at length on the project’s origins, history, design and construction as well as the work situation in China, which seems increasingly to act as an incubator for experimental architecture.

For this evening’s lecture, Mark Hemel will introduce the project, present a short documentary about the project, and discuss the book (written by himself and Barbara Kuit), Supermodel: Making one of the world’s tallest towers.

More about the documentary:

‘Reaching for the Sky’ (by Bert Oosterveld and Peter Franken) candidly shows the personal and professional dilemmas of young architect Mark Hemel who, together with his wife, architect Barbara Kuit, seems to achieve his highest ambition with his first big assignment. On 12 October 2013 the world premiere of “Reaching for the sky” took place during the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam.

Mark Hemel studied at the Technical University of Delft and Architectural Association in London. He received several scholarships for research in Africa and Asia from the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. From 1999–2008 he taught as Unitmaster at the Architectural Association in London and later in the post-graduate Environment and Energy programme. In 2003 he received the RIBA Bronze Medal Tutor Award. In 1998 he and Barbara Kuit founded Information Based Architecture (IBA), which they operate from Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Guangzhou, China.


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