Dr. David Fisher pioneers a movement of new architecture through creativity, determination and a profound connection to time and nature.
Sitting briefly to enjoy a quick working breakfast amid the frenetic bustle of Manhattan before his next press interview and the long flight back home to Florence, Italy, architect/inventorDavid Fisher is a living example of his own theorizations of time as the ultimate architect of our lives.
“Everything is dynamic because all things are forever moving and changing. Nothing is static,” Dr. Fisher explains, accounting not only for his busy schedule and the mysterious essence of life itself, but also for the very crux of his radical concept as the creator of the world’s first Dynamic Tower, a skyscraper in Dubai that actually moves through time and space—the first ever building in motion. He speaks with sheer humility, in an unexpectedly modest tone that belies the striking magnitude of his epic repertoire and ideology. For this Tel Aviv-born architect, who calls Italy home and getsmost of his work done on airplanes, life is indeed defined by its fluidity, by finding existence in the movement of everything, and the power of connecting deeply to an ever-shifting environment.
The construction of Dr. Fisher’s Dynamic Tower will start soon and is scheduled to be completed within 20 months, its breakthrough creation signaling what Dr. Fisher refers to as The Era of New Architecture, one that includes the fourth dimension— time—and one that incorporates the use of natural energy and prefabricated parts as fundamental aspects of this new design model. Along with the one in Dubai, a Dynamic Tower is also in the works for Moscow; it is sure to be one of the most exclusive residential buildings in the world and the new icon of the Russian Federation. Several other cities are interested now in having this “icon of the future” as well; among themare London, Paris and Rio de Janeiro. “There is also an expression of interest in Florida, regardless of the real estate crisis, and we are looking to build a rotating tower inMiami,” Fisher says.
“Designed by life, shaped by time” is the overarching concept of the revolutionary Dynamic Tower, which Dr. Fisher sees as a template for the future of architecture. The ever-shifting shape of the tower is determined by each floor’s direction of rotation, speed, acceleration, and timing;with timing meaning how each floor rotates compared to the others. The rotation speed is between 60minutes and 24 hours for one revolution. The result is an edifice that actually undulates in time, flowing in some kind of rhythmic ripple, almost appearing to breathe, alive like the building’s inhabitants themselves, in a home that is being designed and redesigned at every moment.
“Because your life travels through time, you need a home that travels accordingly,” maintains Dr. Fisher, who feels that our so-called modern buildings are actually quite primitive and no more evolved than the ancient pyramid building style of the ancientEgyptians,where everything was based on gravity and even the most sophisticated of structures were static. InDr. Fisher’s view, these archaic buildings had nothing to do with life. “Modern life,” he states, “is dynamic, so the space we are living in should be dynamic as well, adjustable to our needs that change continuously, to our concept of design and to our moods.” InDr. Fisher’s vision, “dynamic buildings will follow the rhythms of nature, changing their direction and shape, minute by minute, from sunrise to sunset, season to season, adjusting themselves to the environment. Buildings will be alive, creating a fourth dimension— time—to become part of the New Architecture, transforming the shape of skylines of the world, and introducing movement to our interiors and exteriors alike.”
The Dynamic Tower challenges our pre-conceived notions of what a “home” canmean or be, and asks us to revisit the quality of lives we want to live. “I believe people don’t experience their freedomentirely,”Dr. Fisher says. “Inmy buildings, from a philosophical point of view, the most important thing is that you have the freedom. You can choose which view to enjoy, and you can choose to follow the sun or wind.” Thismakes the living experience almost social, because it democratizes the panorama, giving all inhabitants the same 360-degree view. As Dr. Fisher also says, “I believe thatwe knowvery little aboutwhat is surrounding us.We know very little, and the little we do know, we aren’t even completely aware of.” With the Dynamic Tower, the background comes alive, fusing and interacting with life at everymoment, connecting us deeper to the environment we inhabit.
Beyond the aesthetic and philosophical impact of Dr. Fisher’s groundbreaking design/engineering concept is the fact that the Dynamic Tower takes the concept of Green buildings to the next level, because it not only generates its own electricity; it can also create a surplus of energy for other nearby buildings, making it the first skyscraper designed to be entirely powered by wind and sun. The energy it produces is a result of the horizontally placedwind turbines that generate the rotation of the tower floors,whichmakes nature itself the core provider of energy for the home.
A third landmark concept of the Dynamic Tower is the idea of using prefabricated parts in the construction of buildings, as opposed to the conventional method of building everything on-site. “I produce with an industrial approach.My buildings are done in a factory. They are preassembled.” Dr. Fisher’s factory-made construction process offers many of the advantages of any modern industrial product: it conserves energy, reduces construction time and dramatically cuts costs. “Almost every product used today is the result of an industrial process and can be transported around the world, from cars and boats to computers and clothing,” he continues to explain. “Factories are utilized due to their ease of access to raw materials, integrated production technologies, and efficient labor processes, which result in high quality at a relatively lower cost. It is unbelievable that real estate and construction,which are the leading sectors of the world economy, are also the most primitive.” In Dr. Fisher’s model, each individual unit is completely finished at the manufacturing factory and exported worldwide to the assembly site, ready for quick and efficient installation. “When I build in to a site, I have just a few people to do theme chanics and the installation, to essentially put the pieces together. It is just one piece next to the other. That’s it. A mechanical connection like in amachine, like in a car. That is why I refer to it as a ‘machine for living.’”
Dr. Fisher is sincere about the fact that his Dynamic Tower is geared to a wealthy clientele; however, as he explains, “Though the building is intended for the very wealthy, it will hopefully open the door for prefabricated buildings at large, allowing more people to have better homes for less expensive prices.”
It is no coincidence that this synergistic design concept comes to us fromsomeonewho, for the last three decades, has been passionately approaching architecture to exist in harmony with nature, as well as redefining the technical and technological extremes of buildings in major cities around theworld.Among the technologies he developedwas the “SmartMarbleBathroom,” a completely pre-fabricated marble bathroom construction for luxury hotels and homes. The first integratedmechanical approach to civil construction, Dr. Fisher first incorporated this system into the Le Meridian hotel in Dubai, and it has since been incorporated in other hotels and residential projects in London, Paris, Milan, Moscow, and Hong Kong.
So how, then, did the radical idea of amoving structure actually come about? “The real idea for the floor rotation,” reflects Dr. Fisher, “started to percolate when I was in Miami and went to see an apartment that was on the top floor of a skyscraper. I asked the developer for the price of the apartment and he said it was $3million. I asked about the apartment next door, which he proceeded to tellmewas only $1.6million.Why this big difference, I wondered? The answer, he said, was because the first one was overlooking the ocean. The followingweek, I traveled toNewYork to visit friends. I was at the Olympic Towers on 51st Street and 5th Avenue, a fantastic building with glass corners overlooking the city. As I was taking it all in, my friend came over to me and asked if I noticed the viewof EastManhattan, that I could see the East River and the Hudson River, both sides of Manhattan. ‘Nobody has such a view,’ he claimed proudly. ‘I am the only one on the entire floor with this view.’
Modern life is dynamic, so the space we are living in should be dynamic as well, adjustable to our needs that change continuously, to our concept of design and to our moods.
“Since this occurred right after the Miami episode, I thought, Why couldn’t we rotate the whole floor sothat everybody canseebothsidesof EastManhattan; so thatwe can all enjoy an ocean view? I went back to Florence and started to think about what would happen if I rotated each floor separately, not the entire building all at once, but insteadeachflooronits ownwitha different speed and timing. I was amazed to see that the building changed its shape completely because of this movement. In this way the rhythmof life and nature would design the building—not me. I simply create the system, but I certainly don’t shape it.” Dr. Fisher’s modest assessment of his creative role is almost ironic in light of the fact that in 1970 he moved to Florence, the source of the Renaissancemovement, on a personal and professional lifemission that would be defined by the pursuit of radically creative innovation. Despite his own sleek and modern architectural aesthetic, some ofDr. Fisher’s deepest inspiration comes fromthe very antiquated charm of Florence, a city where the patina of time dresses its enchanted atmosphere each day, at everymoment. “Florence of the Renaissance is not only about the beauty,” Dr. Fisher clarifies, “it is a lot about science and technology as well. Consider that the Dome of Florencewas the largest dome ever builtwhen itwas first made, and is still the third-largest dome in history. This is because it was design based on logic and brilliant engineering.
“As a child, Iwas always intriguedby the spaceof things, but I also wanted to be a scientist. Somewhere along the lines I decided that I had to be as creative as possible, and being an artist, I couldn’t think of a better idea than to go to Florence, to the heart of the Renaissance. There, Iwould study and later lectureonarchitecture at theUniversityof Florence, and ultimately, stay there to live. But in this magical city, I would also learn that art could be a result of technology and science.”
The phenomenon of a late afternoon sunset is David Fisher’s other muse, that magical glowing descent that is each day a reminder to us of the beauty of life. Fisher remembers hismother taking him to see the sunsets often, the impact of the beautiful solar blaze burning deep into the soul of future architect that would compel him to be a chaser of sunsets for the rest of his life.
As an adult, one of his personal heroes has always been Leonardo Da Vinci. “He always intrigued me because he invented things that were really incredible, andmainly so because theywere not really needed at this time,” explainsDr. Fisher. “He invented the first helicopter and the first bicycle, which is pretty much a blueprint for the bicycle of today.He designed a changeable gearbox for a car, and invented it when cars didn’t even exist. He was artful in his understanding of technology, and scientific in his approach to art. He invented theMona Lisa as awork of fine art but in his spirit, he was really about technology and science.”
Though he looks to icons of the past for inspiration and wisdom, it is the future generations, the youth of today, whom Dr. Fisher reads for feedback, fully understanding that the technological innovations that today blaze the course of possibility are also relevant to the future of architecture and design. “It is my sincere hope that the young people out there know that anything is possible, that everything is achievable, and that following your passions and dreams are well worth it.” Fisher reminds us that our culture is indeed revolutionary, even in the way it is built.He artfully deconstructs our preconceptions ofwhat our households can or should be, asking us to consider a living experience that is profoundly connected to the natural flow and rhythmof life. “I think all of us have a mission to accomplish something good and meaningful for the rest of humanity. A mission for an architect is to design and build a space for people to live in better conditions. So this is my mission,” David Fisher says, ever humbly, but with an air of confidence that confirms its undeniable truth.