Exploring the "Bigness" in Modern Architectural Design through Urban Cognition

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Yuanben Gao


This paper delves into the concept of "grandness" introduced by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, which, in the 20th century, aligned with societal demands and propelled the development of high-rise architectural theory. However, contemporary architectural research has revealed trends of standardization and compartmentalization in large skyscrapers, which to some extent impact the diversity of urban landscapes. This paper initially discusses these constraints and explores potential future directions for "grandness," with a particular emphasis on the transformative impact of cognitive design. Large skyscrapers often lose uniqueness due to their standardization and may compromise functionality through compartmentalization. For instance, the CCTV Headquarters, while architecturally striking, generated controversy due to its lack of functional practicality. Design centered around cognition emphasizes the uniqueness and iconicity of architectural elements, compensating for the shortcomings of "grandness" by creating distinctive architectural memories. This helps large buildings become more identifiable and culturally meaningful in urban environments, integrating better into urban life. This paper aims to argue for the significance of the "grandness" concept in meeting societal needs while also highlighting some inherent limitations. Through case studies and a focus on cognitive design, a better understanding and response to these limitations can be achieved to better cater to the needs of future urban architecture.


Bigness ; Rem Koolhaas; High-rise architecture; Urban Cognition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26789/JSC.2023.01.005


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