Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
The skyscrapers are the emblem of megalopolis and have become a passion for urban population. Envisaged as 'Vertical cities,' Tall buildings use urban space and resources more efficiently to develop user-friendly buildings. Like developed countries, India's vibrant economy is also fuelling a new found demand among modern masses to live at greater heights. Cashing in on the emerging demand trends, builders in their unfailing quest to scale newer heights are fulfilling people's passions and converting their dreams into reality by offering apartments to them atop thousands feet above the ground which was a distant dream until recently. The trend to go higher is not only becoming lifestyle statement but also responding to the crying need of the hour by coping with the situation where space demand outstripped its supply, reports Maria R.

Traditionally, big cities in USA, China, Japan, UAE, among others, were vying with one another to build the tallest tower, but in the recent past skyscrapers' bug has caught up with the Indian builders where a large number of projects are currently undergoing planning, designing, execution and various stages of implementations.

Envisioned as the best urban development, highrise or skyscraper pays tributes to the collective vision of the greatest talent. Until recently, Mumbai was known as the city of highrises but the trend is currently making inroads across Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. More world class builders engaged in the Indian real estate industry coming together to share their expertise to build an engineering marvel to make the most memorable project of the decade. The gambit is the craze to distinguish one project from other for which they are now sourcing talent and expertise from offshore real estate arena. Today, number of projects in India are designed and constructed by internationally renowned architects, consultants and contractors and latest being an example of Lodha's 'The Word One' tower in Mumbai, which is designed by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners and Leslie E. Robertson Associates and designated as the world's tallest residential tower after its completion in 2014. Other sky liner in line includes Gateway Tower in Gandhinagar with 70 floors, Supertech's tallest tower 'North Eye' in Noida with 60 floors, and Kolkata's Urbana housing 45 floors.

Crying Need of the Hour

As more people are migrating to metros in search of livelihood and better employment opportunities, city planners are also gearing up to accommodate maximum number of families on limited space and this has led to the construction of large number of tall buildings across metros and tier II cities. In addition, skyscrapers have also become a lifestyle statement for many business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani, one of the richest persons in the world, has also chosen to go vertical when planning to build his house. Similarly, Raj Kundra, another business icon has bought a flat in Word's tallest tower 'Burj Khalifa.' In totality, living at greater heights is increasingly becoming a passion among those who can afford it.

Atmosphere

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights

Forum Group launches a luxury residential project 'Atmosphere' in Kolkata which will consist of two towers of 39 storey, soaring more than 125 meters with gardens on each duplex unit. These towers would be connected at a height of 500 feet by a giant structure suspended in the air just like a cloud. This amorphous shape-shifting, tubular piece of floating sculpture is named "Deya", meaning cloud.

Spread across four levels and spanning more than 320 feet in width, Deya will house multiple swimming pools, a gym, a spa, squash courts, badminton court, a joggers' track, a mini theatre, an open-air party deck and amphitheatre and multiple lounges and spaces for small gatherings across 55,000 square feet usable space. The project should get ready within 30 months from the date of its launch (March 2011).

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
NBM&CW's interaction with cross sections of experts engaged in the Indian construction industry including planners, architects, builders, suggest that they are unanimous in their view that going vertical is both the need of the hour and is a lifestyle statement. Says Dr Hossein Rezai-Jorabi, Group Director, Web Structures, it is probably a combination of these two factors as living in highrise is indeed the lifestyle of the future generation and Indian cities and consumers are obviously going to be a significant part of this.

India doesn't have history of skyscrapers and at the same time there was no demand for it because highrise apartment buildings are costly to build and a bit expensive to buy. There are also fundamental challenges because of the high seismic activities beneath the earth surface. But now it has become crystal clear that developers are keen to scale new heights and going higher by adopting quake proof technologies and are building towers even in the quake prone zones, Mr. Jorabi maintains.

Elaborating further he added that Web Structures experience and expertise in designing complex structures and in earthquake engineering is becoming widely recognized in India and currently we are working at the dramatic 39 storey buildings 'Atmosphere' in Kolkata where cloud-like sky-bridge "Deya" is the part of development. We are also working on a 30 storey luxury development in Pune for property developers Marvel Realtors and on many other projects in India, he claimed.

Historical facts

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Mr. Prashant Solomon, Joint Managing Director, Chintels India, echoed this view point adding that there has always been an unfailing quest for height in architecture through the ages. The pyramids and the spiraling towers that have become an integral part of our modern day society, are instances of man striving to create something awe-inspiring in the past. Skyscrapers are always associated with power and grandeur, and they may well become indispensable in future Indian cities. As India is constantly expanding at staggering pace with a huge demand for commercial & residential spaces; Rapid development has left town planners hardly any time to assess the situation and give growth a push in the right direction. Highrises may be the answer to the rapidly growing inhabitants of the city. This concept is the need of the hour and has gathered steam in Delhi and NCR and also in other parts of the country. Today he said, instead of building individual houses, authorities have decided to let the city grow vertically. There is enough demand for highrises for both, residential and commercial spaces. There is no reason to believe that the demand is for short-term and the fact that the topmost floors of apartments command a premium over the other floors shows that there is an increasing appetite for high-rises, he feels.

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights

Chintels Paradiso

Chintels Paradiso is a luxurious 1.1 million square feet highrise apartment complex in the heart of New Gurgaon. It's a thoughtfully designed Group Housing of 534 Apartments, luxuriously built over 12.3 Acres of tastefully crafted serene environs, a truly peaceful abode.

Designed to create a landscape harmonious with nature, nine ultra-modern residential towers dot the periphery enabling residents from all sides to enjoy the calm serenity of manicured lawns below.

The Paradise club, the exclusive domain of its residents, is a perfect place to unwind after a hard day's work or just relax over the weekend. A modern gymnasium, tennis, swimming, golf, squash, basket ball and a host of other indoor sports and activities provide its residents a wide range of recreational choices.

He said adding that today developers in every country are in a race to build record-breaking skyscrapers which make their country more famous. In our world, cities are identified by their skyscrapers. Think of Paris, New York, Chicago, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong without their skyscrapers. Today, a nation's image is formed by the kind of skyscrapers they have. The tourism industry is also largely affected by the presence of skyscrapers as for example many people go to Dubai just to see the world's tallest building – the Burj Khalifa, he said.

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Expressing his views on the subject, Mr. RK Arora, Chairman & Managing Director, Supertech Limited said that craze for living at a height is well likely to increase as in recent times, there is a significant change in making a choice of living for Indian customers as now-a-days more people are traveling abroad just to get a chance to see and experience the new trends and wish to have same facility or services in their own country. Such skyscrapers provide world class facility and matchless features which customers always wanted to experience. It also gives an entirely different feeling when people look up from that height which cannot be possible in other kind of residential buildings. In places like Mumbai, there is an acute shortage of space and to accommodate maximum city dwellers, skyscrapers are the need of the hour and majority of the development are going vertically. But now in other cities or metros where space constrains are not much of a consideration people still wanted to live in skyscrapers as it has something different to offer. Keeping customers choice in priority, Supertech has recently launched "North Eye" The North India's tallest residential development of 255mts and 60 floors consisting of open air restaurant on top floor, Helipad, Observatory and an infinity pool, among others, the response to the project was overwhelming and it was sold in a very short span of time, he averred.

North Eye

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Supertech is coming up with the North India's tallest residential tower 'North Eye' in Noida. Spread over an area of 9 acres, the tower stands at 255 metres high with 60 floors and is built up in three part East wing and west wing on the ground and Central Tower.

North Eye –East and west wing comprises 1&2 floors being built up to provide best of facilities like great shopping experience, cafeteria, lobbies and other facilities like creche, play school and a primary school. Central Tower consists of waiting lounge, lobbies, cafeteria and hi-end shopping area.

In addition, the tower will consist of open air restaurant on top floor, Helipad, Observatory and an infinity pool, etc.

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Vertical expansion is the only option if cities are to grow and flourish, revealed Mr. Ganesh Vasudevan, Vice President and Business Head of Indiaproperty. com. The emergence of skyscrapers is not an expected trend as trend of highrise construction came out in full bloom in the past couple of years only and city after city has witnessing the launch of highrise residential projects. These are not the usual 15-20 floor buildings in the city, but many have more than 30 or even up to 100 floors. The tall buildings in India include 'World One' project in Mumbai has 117 floors; the 'North eye' project at the NCR region has 60 floors, 'Bangalore 47' project has 47 floors and with 'Urbana' Kolkata will look different' from the 45th floor. He said, adding that the highrise building is seen as a wealth generating mechanism working in an urban economy. Tall structures help accommodate more people within limited resources of land. Due to availability of global technology and the growing demand for real estate, Skyscrapers are seen as the most fitting solution to any city that is spatially challenged and can't accommodate its surging population. When you compare the population in our cities with the amount of land, we have the only way to provide better living conditions by building highrises, he insisted.

World One Tower

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Lodha Developers's World One is over 117 storeys, 1450 feet tall, located on a large 17 acre site in Upper Worli, Mumbai. At over 450 meters when ready in 2014, it will be the world's tallest residential tower and comfortably dwarf Q1 in Gold coast, which at 323 meters, is currently the world's tallest residential tower. True to its global stature, World One will be concurrently premiered across the globe in New York, Tokyo, and Mumbai.

One of the landmark features of this iconic development will be an exclusive observatory called '1000' – located at a height of 1000 feet above the city. This open to air observatory will allow residents to enjoy fabulous views of the city and the Arabian Sea – it is estimated that a person can see as far away as 60 kms from the building from this height.

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Mr. D. S. Kulkarni, Chairman and Managing Director, DSK Group feels that vertical growth is never negative. Vertical and horizontal growth should increase or decrease depending on natural conditions. He said, adding that proper planning with higher floor space index (FSI) lead to creation of residential spaces for everyone despite scarce availability of land. If one wants to increase the FSI that is building more homes, skyscrapers is the only option. Hongkong, Singapore, Shanghai, New York, and Mumbai are some of the well developed and planned cities with bigger FSI and scarce land.

On their highrise construction he elaborated, Durgamata Towers, a 32 storey building located at Cuff Parade in Mumbai is our first skyscraper. Currently, we are working on a 42 storey sky scraper called Mantri DSK Pinnacle, in Bengaluru. This is South India's largest skyscraper with a helipad on it. We are expanding in Mumbai and soon will erect a skyscraper in Pune, he revealed.

Sustainability Ensures Stability

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
42 storey Mantri DSK Pinnacle, in Bengaluru.
Aesthetics and Sustainability are the issues of paramount importance when planning for any highrise construction. Experts feel that development of highrises need careful consideration on certain aspects at different stages since planning of the project until its completion so that it should be sustainable for occupants. Highrise structures pose particular design challenges for structural and geotechnical engineers, particularly if situated in a seismically active region or if the underlying soils have geotechnical risk factors such as high compressibility or bay mud. They also pose serious challenges to firefighters during emergencies and hours of crisis in highrise structures. Mr Vasudevan explained that in highrise buildings, the sustainable feature is one where the designing team has struck a balance between environmental, economic and social issues at all stages including, design, construction and operation through the life span of the structure. This may involve greater emphasis on different aspects at different stages in the building's life, for example energy for building services and transport of building users and occupants and associated CO2 emissions are key to sustainable operation. There are specific aspects where tall buildings are less sustainable than low rise, e.g. in their requirement for energy for vertical transportation, but there are others where they undoubtedly have advantages including the utility of land in densely populated urban areas.

Most highrises are designed with fire-resistant material so that the chances of the whole building catching fire are lower, averred Vasudevan. Meanwhile for evacuation during an emergency, there are floors designed at various levels, where people can gather during calamities. Open spaces in the building, like staircases are designed to evacuate a larger number of people. At the same time, these highrise buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes as well. If a city falls in a potential earthquake zone of 3 on the Richter scale, tall buildings are designed to sustain a quake of level 5 or 6, he said adding that tall buildings can be totally sustainable; the barriers are principally economic and social rather than technological. Economic barriers include capital costs for renewable energy sources and market acceptability, whilst social considerations include visual impact, novelty and safety.

Dr. Jorabi viewed that sustainability lies at the heart of the creation of highrise buildings. This is reflected in the smaller physical footprint they have on the landscape, as well as on the reduced traveling distance between buildings inherent in population centres driven by highrise development. He informed that additional sustainable features such as photovoltaic cells, used in curtain wall panels and the insertion of energy cells to generate electricity from the stacking effects and air movements through buildings have been explored and incorporated in a number of residential towers. We also believe that the residential towers of the future should also include in their design the giant air purifiers, allowing atmospheric pollutants to be filtered as the air naturally permeates through these tall structures, he added.

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Marvel Realtor's 30 story luxury development in Pune.

Mr. Solomon believes that aesthetic design is generally a primary requirement for an effective highrise building. However, the construction industry in India needs to focus more on safe highrises,as the need for construction of tall buildings in metros is increasing. He elaborated that construction of a highrise in India is taking care to prevent earthquake disasters through seismic-proof buildings. It is the duty of developers to make such buildings that minimizes the loss during any natural disaster. He informed that as a safety measure, the National Disaster Management Authority has made it compulsory for all new constructions, highrise and lowrise both, to be earthquake-resistant, especially in cities located in seismic zones.

Apart from this, there are various sustainable approaches such as cogeneration, solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, rainwater harvesting, gray water systems, day-lighting, external shading and we are using some of these in our flagship project called 'Chintels Paradiso,' he revealed. Assimilating sustainable design solutions and features into an aesthetically desirable development can be challenging and requires pre-planning and integration of all project team members in the design process, he added.

Sustainable and safety issues in highrise buildings are also echoed by Mr. Arora and he opined that when a builder plans to build a skyscraper, the foremost priority is given to its safety measures. Before going for construction all important safety measures are thoroughly discussed and implemented in the minute details. And existence of skyscrapers tells in itself the success story. Such projects are handled and maintained by only those constructors who are the masters and experts in delivering highrise projects.

Pluses

Living in Skyscrapers itself is a great feeling and when it is value added with several advantages. One has no word to express its satisfaction and gratitude for their creators. Dwelling in details on the pros of highrise buildings Mr. Jorabi revealed that the main advantage of a highrise building is its smaller footprint it has on the ground compared with low-lying buildings that offer the same amount of real estate. Tower blocks inherently leave a larger portion of the site untouched by building works, thereby leaving more space available for landscaping and other more meaningful uses.

The embodied carbon in a residential tower project tends to be somewhat higher than in low-lying residential developments, but the energy use in commuting within the real estate tends to be lower in highrise buildings. Besides this, structural engineering offers dynamic and varied solutions to the challenges faced by architects and engineers. The design processes we have developed over the years leads to unique structural systems that are tailor-made for every project we are involved in and are totally cost-efficient.

Skyscrapers Scaling Newer Heights
Durgamata Towers, a 32 storey building located at Cuff Parade in Mumbai
Some of the other advantages which attracted buyers towards highrises are availability of all the facilities in the same tower like the shopping complexes, restaurants, clubs, etc. The occupant doesn't have to go anywhere outside the tower to search for things, which makes it convenient for them. Mr. Solomon feels that these buildings have evolved into a multi-purpose abode. Having various facilities under one roof generates additional revenue for the owner and allows efficient delivery of required services. He affirmed that one of the biggest advantages of a high rise is primarily savings for the cost of land. Highrise buildings are found in cities, where land cost is high, so it's less expensive to go up. Apart from this, these skyscrapers give ample open space and better landscape view. Also, the temperature drops about 3°C per 1,000 ft. The other advantages are lesser noise, clean environment and controlled entrances.

Mr. Vasudevan expressed that despite many advantages offered by highrises, there are also some challenges faced by the highrise occupants includes 100% emergency exits which may not be possible because of the height factor. Other than this Mr. Arora reiterated that living in highrise is also not affordable for all classes of people in India because it is sold as premium property and the cost associated with its constructions from primary stage of foundation till completion of the projects with high strength building materials and special amenities such as double glazed glass to minimize impact of sound and heat, is quite high.

NBMCW July 2011