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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hire Rise Buildings

Skyscrapers are getting bigger, as cities race to break the record for the tallest tower. But in the future, they may become cities themselves, helping mitigate urban sprawl.

You have just closed the door behind you and your dog is already jumping up your leg, demanding you take him for a walk. Normally this would mean a short journey in the lift or a few flights of the stairs. Not so if your apartment is in one of the world’s new super-tall buildings, where you might be hundreds of metres above ground. It’s no walk in the park to take a walk in the park.

You might think today’s skyscrapers are tall, but they are likely to be dwarfed by concepts and future designs pushing human construction higher and higher. In May this year, One World Trade Center was topped out and has become the world’s third-tallest building at 541m, restoring New York’s skyline and placing it back on the map of super tall buildings.  The mantle of world’s tallest building is now held by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, completed in 2010 and which reaches the lofty height of 829.8m. 
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is now the world’s tallest tower – at nearly 830m it is more than 300m taller than the previous holder, Taipei’s Tower 101.
The presence of this enormous building and the fact that even more buildings of comparable heights – so far – latest category of high-rises: the mega-talls, buildings exceeding 600m in height. And this is likely to be just the beginning.
Obviously the quest for new heights is not at all new. What is different though is that the competition for tallness turned global and consequently fiercer and more extreme. Cities and regions compete against each other and require buildings as landmarks that create identity, symbolise power and riches and showcase sophistication way beyond their physical boundaries. At the moment the race to build skyscraping towers is about prestige; but one day they may help alleviate urban sprawl, allowing our megacities to curb their seemingly unstoppable spread.
The title of the world’s tallest building already has a new challenger; theKingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
The first to top the one-kilometre mark will be Jeddah’s Kingdom Tower, due to be completed in 2019. 
 which is intended to be the first to reach beyond the 1,000-metre mark. Originally, this project was aiming to introduce yet another category following the super tall: the mile-high building, but had to be scaled back because the soil would not take the weight.
Elevator revolution
Aside from the technical challenges, this category of buildings obviously also faces financial challenges. With investments easily going beyond $1bn, super-tall buildings aren’t usually intended to be economically viable as stand-alone buildings but are considered as part of a larger plan, where the signature tower adds value to a surrounding entourage of smaller, more efficient structures.
The challenges these super-tall buildings face are plentiful, requiring enormous financial resources, sophisticated engineering skills, a consolidated will amongst all parties involved to make it happen and finally people willing to work, live, use and pay for them on a daily basis. The sheer size of such projects calls for the right mix of functions that can be economically viable within such a structure, while the overall efficiency of the building suffers from a large core necessary to provide sufficient space for vertical transportation. Traditionally, the elevators needed to whisk us to the top of our towers require heavy cables to work properly; something which adds considerably to the building’s weight.
This summer, Finnish liftmaker Kone unveiled a new design – the Kone Ultrarope – which will shave some 60% off the weight of the elevator infrastructure, such as cables. Seeing as this has been one of the major factors standing in the way of ultra-high towers, plans that were once considered unfeasible because of weight issues may now see the light of day.
The sheer size of these projects, both in terms of floor space and the many thousands of people using them each day,  pushing them further away from being seen as buildings and towards new territories; city within a city, a vertical city.
The super-tall towers don’t typically represent companies and are no longer mono-functional. Instead, they are frequently named after the location they represent and come closer to the idea of a vertical city where multitudes of functions are combined under one “roof”. Super-tall building includes offices, hotels, apartments, retail, entertainment and cultural venues. Hotels and apartments at a high location within the building provide magnificent views, but proximity to the ground has its logistic advantages too. Consequently hotels and residential units can be found both at high and low segments. Subway stations allow retail and other commercial elements to find their place in the basement and first few levels above ground, typically within a podium structure.
While this is a rather typical mix for super-tall towers to date, it’s reasonable to think ahead of what else might be part of the functions of towers in the future. Given mankind’s increasing urbanisation, the current division of city and agricultural land is challenged and urban farming is becoming more widespread. It is not a great leap to imagine the towers or tomorrow also being used to grow food; the super-tall towers we see being built today are more likely to have recreational green spaces at first. But the introduction of “vertical farms” may not be far away.

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