Buildings that foster attention

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 October, 1993, 12:00am

THE word ''millennium'' carries many overtones: windy concepts of vast stretches of time and of change. In Tokyo, Sir Norman Foster has tried to match the resonating concept with a structure called Millennium Tower.

At 840 metres high and 130 metres in diameter at the base this slender cone will rise to almost twice that of the world's tallest existing building - the Seagram Tower - and is estimated to cost HK$120 billion.

There's nothing wrong with choosing a cone in preference to a square tower, except everyone in a cone has to learn how to handle spaces which resemble a slice of pie.

Models of the Chek Lap Kok Terminal building offer a structure that truly reflects its use - the departure and arrival of flights. The plan and the roof, a filigree of steel and glass, like the carapace of some unearthly flying creature, have a lively, light and pleasing look.

Foster's other models of projects in hand and those completed offer a cross-section of his imaginative approach to problems - from a university library to the new terminal of the Kowloon-Canton Railway.

But, with those cancer-producing rays beaming through all that glass from the depleted ozone layer, one must speculate on the propriety of these exciting buildings.