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Super Tall Sky Ticklers: World Overview 2015

Posted by
on December 12, 2015 at 01:01 PM

Another year draws to a close, albeit making way for yet another. It’s the time of year to look back at achievements and accomplishments put on record, as well as take stock of the losses booked. A year full of promises kept as well as resolutions broken has gone by and we are that much closer to the times we will be answerable for - which is the future! The architectural world too, is full of hope, aspirations, ambitions and dreams to be realised. Abuzz with activity, weaving dreams and realising goals, setting targets and meeting deadlines, buildings are being constructed - amidst the bid for a sustainable future. We, at TFOD, take note of some notable structures added to our planet this year, beginning here with the ones that have raised the global skyline. 

© Courtesy of internet resources

Shanghai Tower (images 1 – 5)

Designed as a tower within a tower, this 2,073 ft. high monument to China’s economic prowess in the 21st century is the second tallest building in the world today after Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Standing in Lujiazui Financial District in Shanghai, this mixed use building was conceptualised as part of a closely standing group of three supertall towers (the world’s first such group) including the Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Centre. The Shanghai Tower project began in 2008 with the Shanghai office principal Jun Xia of US based architectural firm Gensler winning it and leading a team of 200 to design this spectacular tower, which was completed in September 2015.

The outer façade is a slightly tapering spiral of non-reflective glass rising into the clouds like Jack’s beanstalk, encasing within at some distance the inner façade, also of transparent glass, which looks like a tapering stack of cylinders. The 128 floors high tower, within the inner glass wall, houses offices and a 258 room hotel between its 84th and 110th floors, which is the second highest one in the world. Between its inner and outer facades lies the novelty of this tower, as this is where nine indoor public zones have been created, each replete with its own atrium, gardens, restaurants, cafes and retail spaces, affording 360’views of the outside. The Shanghai tower also scores high on sustainability as its special 120’ twisting façade creates lesser wind loads enabling it to be built with much less steel and concrete. Also, its double layered insulating glass façade is able to keep out temperature changes for longer reducing the need for air conditioning. 

432 Park Avenue (images 6 – 10)

432 Park Avenue is the name and address of what is positioned presently as the tallest residential building in the western hemisphere and the second tallest building in New York at a height of 1396 ft, surpassing even the original supertall Empire State Building. Located in mid-town Manhatten overlooking Central Park, Rafael Vinoly Architects have designed this fashionably supertall, super slim building to house condominium units ranging from 351 sq ft studios to six bedroom penthouses along with amenities like golf training facilities, private dining and screening rooms.

Appearing absolutely plain with no variations along its sky high façade of 85 floors above ground, which has 24 (6 per face) 100 sq ft windows per floor set in an equal grid reflective of Manhatten’s neat grid layout , 432 Park Avenue reflects a pure modernist idiom. But, with a slenderness ratio of 1:15, its structural stability is achieved by a system of an open concrete grid on the façade, contained within which seven independent buildings stack up, in between which the building’s core can be seen exposed, providing the intermittent buffers that absorb loads and stresses. The building delivers its premium goods without dominating its surroundings either aesthetically, spatially or structurally, with a ‘smart’ design that portends a lasting impact on supertall structures of the future. Occupation of 432 Park Avenue was expected to begin by the end of this year.

India Reaches for the Skies

Ar. Hafeez Contractor’s 254 m high The Imperial located in Tardeo, Mumbai put India in the supertall league in 2010, and stands even today as the tallest constructed in India yet. Today India has 84 completed tall buildings (130 m and higher) located mostly in Mumbai, but also in Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mangalore. There are 153 of these under construction in places as varied as Kochi, Kozhikode, Vishakhapatnam, Kanpur and even Vrindavan, with the tallest under construction being World One in Mumbai at 442 m height to be completed next year. 74 tall buildings have been approved or proposed in a list of cities which includes Ahmedabad, and 20 projects have been put on hold. It is amply clear that much of young India will be living in the skies. 

The additions to the list of tall buildings completed in 2015 include Victoria and Le Palazzo (image 11) in Mumbai, Seagull in Chennai and buildings in Atmosphere (image 12) and Urbana groups (images 13 – 15) in Kolkata, all residential. Of these, the Urbana group credits a special mention, where 168 m (46 floors) high towers 3, 4 and 5 have been completed this year. Designed by Singapore based architect Stephen Coates and developed by the Bengal NRI Complex consortium of companies, Urbana is a 65+ acres residential complex of 8 proposed supertall towers in Anandapur, Kolkata which will house 8000 people when completed and will reportedly be the tallest residential complex of eastern India. With a 10 acre park integrated inside Urbana, and several green systems and practices incorporated in the construction and maintenance of the complex, it is also being labelled as Kolkata’s first green residential area. Evidently, tall and green must go hand in hand in the future of building construction. 

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