Skyscrapers of the future will be determined by photovoltaics and wood lifestyle
The growth of cities has led us to incorporate ever more sustainable and eco-efficient materials into these buildings. The installation of solar panels, self-generating energy systems, and laminated wood structures are just some of the latest trends in modern architecture.
Currently, 55% of the world’s population live in cities – and by 2050, this percentage is expected to reach around 70% (an increase of 2 billion people). This was the forecast from the UN in its latest report, which also predicts that urban populations will increase dramatically in countries such as India, Nigeria, China, and Pakistan.
The vertical growth of cities
Their long-term forecast predicts that 2.5 billion more people will live in urban areas across the world in 30 years’ time. A trend that will lead to the overpopulation of large cities. “Around half of the world’s population (55%) now live in urban areas, and it is predicted that by 2050, around two-thirds (68%) of all people will live in urban areas”, said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
“68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050”
The UN estimates that by 2030 there will be 43 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, and the organization insists that an urban planning agenda should be developed, based on sustainability, urban design, smart buildings, and the local economy, to ensure every person has the right to adequate housing.
And eco-efficient skyscrapers are a response to this type of city model. Given that population centres will grow vertically, these multifunctional buildings are shaping up to be the solution of the future. This is demonstrated in a study published by Columbia University (USA), which estimates that 41,000 skyscrapers are going to be built by 2050 – and they will be 50% higher than the current ones. “Up to 2050, there will be 6,800 skyscrapers per billion people in cities“, their researchers say.
“This is demonstrated in a study published by Columbia University (USA), which estimates that 41,000 skyscrapers are going to be built by 2050 – and they will be 50% higher than the ones we have now”.
China – with average annual growth at 9.5% in 2018 – is one of the countries where we can see this type of vertical shift. Sustained expansion has meant building skyscrapers has become increasingly common. In fact, 84 out of 128 buildings over 200 metres high are in the country.
Leeza Soho in Beijing is one of them. Built by Zaha Hadid Architects studio, this 45 storey, 172,800 square metre building is characterised by a unique glass and steel structure. With two intertwining halves creating the world’s highest atrium, the building’s design simulates a human DNA sequence.
This structure means the tower itself acts as a natural energy source: the atrium is a thermal chimney with a ventilation system that limits and filters air coming in from outside. As such, the air breathed inside is much cleaner than the city’s air, improving the quality of life of those inside.
The green building also uses a water collection system, another energy management system which controls energy efficiency instantly, and a rooftop photovoltaic energy system. The series of sustainable measures led to it receiving the LEED Gold certificate from the US Green Building Council.
The MGM Cotai Towers skyscraper is also in China, specifically in the Macau region. Rated one of the most beautiful and sustainable skyscrapers in the world, this 151 metre high, 35 storey complex is made up of a casino, hotel, and 1,390 rooms.
Emulating a huge Rubik’s cube, each one of the stacked boxes come together forming two subtly curved towers.
The aesthetic approach led the building to be awarded the Emporis Skyscraper 2019 award for innovative design. “The unusual shape and colour scheme of the building immediately catches the eye. The skyscraper does not fall in line with the typical expectations for high-rise architecture in any way” highlighted the judges at the awards.
Its heating system also breaks away from the norm, enabling efficient management of both water and noise. The building’s sustainability is heightened by its indoor garden, made up of more than 100,000 plants and 2,000 different species.
A growing trend in Europe
It is also becoming increasingly common to see skyscrapers in Europe. London, Paris, and Milan are top of the ranking of European cities with the largest number of skyscrapers. One of London’s highlights is 52 Lime Street.
Located just a few metres from the Sky Garden, one of London’s highest public gardens, this 190 square metre, 9 storey skyscraper is of a geometric design, resembling a knife.
Known as “The Scalpel” amongst London’s residents, it ranked in third place for the best and newest tall buildings in the world thanks to its architectural layout and sustainability.
With a green roof achieving a 25% reduction in carbon emissions, its drinking water consumption is 45% lower than that of a conventional tower. These qualities earned the building an “Excellent” rating under the worldwide BREEAM sustainability standard.
Urban concentration and the new challenges posed by climate change have led us to rethink and seek alternative construction methods. This is the case with wood, which has become increasingly common in these types of buildings.
One of the highest wooden skyscrapers in the world is the Mjøstårnet. Located in the city of Brumunddal (Norway), the 85.4 metre high, 18 storey tower incorporates housing, offices, hotels, restaurants, and a swimming pool.
A project by Voll Arkitekter studio, the structure, next to Lake Mjøsa, has won numerous awards such as the Tech Award 2018 and the New York Design Awards 2018.
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