Interesting news for the architectural competition “Piraeus Tower: Changing the Face”

18 March, 2010

Interesting news for the architectural competition “Piraeus Tower: Changing the Face”

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has chosen to use the architectural competition as part of the educational process.

By Alexios Vandoros

Greek version

On Saturday 6th of March, the writer, chief editor of, was met with a group of students from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne accompanied by Nathaniel Zuelzke, Assistant Doctorant of Media x Design Lab. They were in Athens because they wanted to visit Piraeus Tower (they intended to attend at the workshop, but due to a 24hour strike the previous day, their flight was cancelled and they were not able to do so…) and have a personal view for the subject of the international architectural competition of ideas “Piraeus Tower: Changing the Face”. As described below (by Nathaniel Zuelzke) the students of the workshop will face the Piraeus Tower issue in the frame of their summer semester and they will continue to further constructional solutions and modelising.


It is a great honor and pleasure for the fact that a department of architecture has chosen to use the architectural competition as part of the educational process and indeed to participate with many different proposals. This fact shows that the choice of the specific issue overpass the narrow topographic boundaries of Greece and constitutes an object of problematic at a wider level, by promoting simultaneously Athens internationally. Students were informed for the competition and were given answers to any queries possible, mostly social, topographic and political questions and secondly utterly architectural, as the later ones were already answered through the competition’s website.

Alexios Vandoros,
Chief editor of e-magasine

Organicités: Piraeus Tower is a Masters-level architectural design studio taught by Jeffrey Huang, Trevor Patt, and Nathaniel Zuelzke at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in the Spring semester 2010. It is part of a larger body of research-through-design entitled Organicités which explores the digital generation of architecture using biological paradigms.

Course Hypothesis
The potential of architectural form is not entirely boundless. Mechanical properties and the laws of physics supply resolute constraints. The availability of materials and the conventions of construction are stout adversaries to frivolous form. The realities of fabrication technology and economics provide resistance to formal experimentation that is often impossible to overcome. In short, without entering a discussion of design intentions, the solution space of architecture is already limited.

However, that limited solution space remains minimally explored. The recesses and bounds can be tested only by codifying the manifest constraints on architectural production, organizing a hierarchy of articulate design intentions, and harnessing the power of computation to explore the intersection of these aims.

Course Content
As a relatively contained tectonic construction determined by physical constraints, functional requirements, and design impositions, the architectural skin is a research site well-suited for the application of our hypothesis. Continuing to research the skyscraper typology explored in previous studios, our investigations will focus on the reconceptualization and re-skinning of the Piraeus Tower in Athens. Beyond simply dressing the given form in an aesthetic cladding, we will explore the propagation of tectonic resolution on all scales from the detail to global form.

The course is divided into two phases, the first focused on research and the second on the development of a specific architectural design proposal. The first phase involves three parallel streams of research: precedent exercises, organic case studies, and technical workshops. This phase culminates in a schematic proposal and competition entry for the Piraeus Tower: Changing the Face competition. In the second phase, students develop their proposals in detail through the utilization of environmental feedback systems and the creation of large-scale prototypes.

Nathaniel Zuelzke,
Assistant Doctorant of Media x Design Lab.


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