Influenced by engineering and new technology, High Tech is a style that celebrates the display of a building’s construction and services.
High Tech was a development of British Modernist architecture from the late 1960s and was a concept, rather than a style. Based on engineering and construction and other aspects such as the manipulation of space, High Tech was marked by a preference for lightweight materials and sheer surfaces, a readiness to adopt new techniques from engineering and other technologies, and the celebratory display of a building’s construction and services.
Norman Foster and Richard Rogers were the key architects who brought about these changes and implemented them from the 1970s. High Tech buildings are characterised by exposed structures (usually of steel and or other metals), exposed services (pipes and air ducts etc.), a smooth, impervious skin (often of glass) and a flexibility to create internal service zones, rather than rooms or sequences of rooms.
What to look for in a High Tech building:
- Steel and glass
- Flexible interiors
- Expressed construction
- Colour used for pipework and services
- Lightweight materials
Article by Suzanne Waters
British Architectural Library, RIBA
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Explore more images of High Tech architecture from the RIBA Collections.
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1. Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 1978 (Foster Associates), John Donat / RIBA Collections RIBA15315
2. Channel 4 headquarters, Horseferry Road, London, 1994 (Richard Rogers Partnership) Janet Hall / RIBA Collections RIBA6013
3. Hopkins' House, Downshire Hill, Hampstead, London: the studio on the upper level, 1975 (Michael Hopkins and Partners), Joe Low / RIBA Collections RIBA9884
4. Pompidou Centre (Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou), Paris (Piano and Rogers), Emmanuel Thirard / RIBA Collections RIBA3782
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