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Sunday, January 2, 2022

Architectural Style: What Is The High-Tech?


— A Full Documentation with images —

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Fig.1- Glass walls combined with steel frames were also hugely employed, Photo by: Pexels

High-Tech Style History

Did you sometimes wonder what is High-Tech Architecture style is, and from where it originates?

As an architect or designer, did you ever know that it is also recognized as Late Modernism or Structural Expressionism as well?

In fact, it is one architectural style that appeared in the 1970s end or what we named Late Modernism. It is also called Structural Expressionism due to the various features of the high-tech industry used and incorporated as a design to build a new concept of edifices and constructions.


To memorize, High-Tech Architecture derives then from the Modernist style, exploiting and employing new methods in technology and construction materials. It holds transparency in design and construction, which highlights the connection and function of a building starting from its interior that emerges to the exterior.

As for the philosophy adopted here, it expresses the architectural concept by managing the interior and passing through it arises onto the exterior.

More steel and concrete were being used in this kind of architecture, which is clear proof of the above-cited philosophy of the Inside-Outside Architectural Concept. Where steel and concrete materials form the essential structural elements.

This sort of architecture was considered to be a link between Modern and Post-Modern Architecture. Even though, the exact period is still unknown from when this architectural style begins and when the post-modern architecture was over. Approximatively in the year 1980, the high-tech style started to differ from the post-modern: Many of the elements and ideas which derivates from the post-modern era were added to the high-tech architecture later in addition to its own.


Examples of High-Tech Buildings Worldwide

Fig.2- The Hearst Tower in New York City by Foster, Photo: Wikipedia
To be more specific in my discussion, I am sharing hereby some of the well-known international projects designed with and featuring the High-Tech Architectural Style:


I must say that the Structural Expressionism buildings also reveal the design either from the inside or the outside of the construction, but in a very prominent way.


To be more clear, the internal mechanical or electrical installation, which is both an essential element of the modern building structure, will be shown and displayed to the external side in a very inventive and creative way.


If you look closer at some of this style's first followers and its early adopters, then you will find that it would surely include the British architect Norman Foster (Fig.2 above), whose work has since earned him decency, and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, known mostly for his organic and skeleton-like designs. (Fig.3 below)




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Fig.3- Gare do Oriente, Lisbon, Portugal (1998) by Calatrava, Photo: Wikipedia

Generally, those projects with the High-Tech style usually consist of a clear glass facade, with the building's structural beams visible behind it.


As for another practical and typical example, you will surely come across the most well-known, and very renowned edifice built with this style in mind; You will certainly recognize the I.M. Pei's Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong (shown in the figure below).

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Fig.4- With its structural crossed steel tubes, visible from the outside is a pure example of the high-tech style used in the bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, Photo: archdaily.com

His structural and other trades design which are classically speaking supposed to be invisible, are now totally or partially in position against the rules of what is commonly adopted so far, emerges offensively to the outside, and creates yet a unique design by all means.


Likely, the World Trade Center in New York City, although generally considered to be an International Style building, is believed to be a Structural Expressionism design due to its load-bearing steel exoskeleton.

Another live example of High-Tech buildings is the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris. It features the mechanical and ventilation installation visible to the center’s visitors; Its creative concept consists of gaining more areas for exhibition by relocating and repositioning the disturbing piping network and thus freeing more space. The interesting fact is the usage of various color paints to show up the beauty of the unique creativity. (Shown in Fig.5)

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Fig.5- The ventilation ducts are all outstandingly displayed on the outer elevation, Photo: www.legorafi.fr

And there is a lot to mention here, such as the Lloyds Building, London designed by Richard Rogers, and other famous worldwide projects. (Fig.6)

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Fig.6- The Lloyds Building, London designed by Richard Rogers, Photo: Financial Times

The Characteristics

The main characteristics of High-Tech Architecture have not remained stable and unique but have changed and diverse somewhat, according to the technology evolution. Yet all have highlighted technical elements, notably the display of the building's technical and functional components, such as various sanitary and mechanical extensions, air-conditioning ducts, ventilation pipes, etc... All were externalized, often along with load-bearing arrangements, and composed within a unique layout, which I believe creates the identity of each construction apart.

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Usage of pre-fabricated elements and glass walls combined with steel frames were also hugely employed. (See Fig.1 above)

If you want to see an example of what precedes, then I must say that you will not find a more eminent example than Centre Pompidou, in Paris, mentioned earlier. The ventilation ducts are all outstandingly shown on the outer back elevation, the front being reserved for the steel structure likely outwardly visible (Refer to Fig.5 above, and Fig.7 below)

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Fig.7- The front elevation of Pompidou Center- Paris, Photo: Wikipedia

To conclude, and as you can see, this kind of architectural style is becoming very popular nowadays and more and more designers and architects are adopting it in their projects because of its powerfulness, futuristic, creativity, functionality, and beauty as well, and many other aesthetic reasons... So, don’t you agree?

References in this article:

- Wikipedia (www.eng.wikipedia.org) the Online Encyclopedia.
- Pexels (www.pexels.com)


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