If you thought that rotating restaurants and houses were simply relics of our space age past, consider the handful of dynamic architectural projects being developed in the coming decade. The most notable being the Dynamic Tower in Dubai, an 80-story mixed use structure by Florentine architect David Fisher, whose every floor is capable of rotating a full 360 degrees. What better time for us to evaluate the history of these extravagant structures than now, when they stand poised to join the urban theme parks of the Middle East?
"Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings that Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot" by Chad Randl is a sweeping survey of dynamic architecture that takes readers well beyond the 20th Century. The book begins with the earliest revolving structures; the legendary supper rooms in Nero's Domus Aurea date as far back as the first century. Randl devotes a good portion of his study on early designs from 1900-1945, buildings that were designed as treatment centers, summer retreats, and amusements.
These relatively modest kinetic structures laid the foundations for the opulent eateries in the sky that tended to dominate post-war rotating architecture, a broad concern for much of the latter part of the book. Randl closes the study by looking at more recent residential dwellings, an interesting survey of eccentric homeowners as much as architectural tour. In all, the book provides ample opportunity for us to marvel at our predecessors, though it tends to lack any true opinion as to whether revolving architecture is an evolution, or simply another sign of our hubris.