A Case Study for Vertical Sustainable Urbanism

Richard Mann, Founding Director, Ecosystem Architecture, Andrew Johnson, Principal, Arup, Elke Haege, Landscape Architect, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.

This paper explores a range of design principles for achieving a socially sustainable residential community in a very tall environmentally responsive building. The goal of this study is the exploration of possibilities for both high rise and very tall development providing levels of indoor-outdoor amenity usually associated with street level, horizontal housing and in particular focusing on social relationships. Further, the case study demonstrates a strategy for the ecological rehabilitation of degraded, low quality urban land or topographically difficult sites. The case study investigated the design of a building as a platform for supporting healthy ecosystems. The design also demonstrates a significant degree of facade and unit orientation flexibility while maintaining effective structural and spatial planning solutions. The architecture achieves responsiveness for a diverse range of climates without limiting amenity or functional adaptability. The complexity of the brief demanded close collaboration of the diverse disciplines within the design team.

Architectural Strategy

The case study demonstrates principles for achieving a socially sustainable residential community in a very tall building while providing levels of living amenity usually associated with street level, horizontal housing.

Further, the case study design provides a strategy to upgrade and ecologically rehabilitate degraded, low quality urban land or topographically difficult sites.

The research was guided by a key question of what could be the next stage for development of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles for very tall residential buildings.

A core theme of the design investigated the building as a platform for supporting healthy ecosystems and flexible architecture (see Figures 1,2,3).

Internationally, architects and engineers have adopted ESD method- ologies based on various models. Precinct based ESD principles are now widely adopted for town planning.

It is increasingly acknowledged that the basis of global, regional and local economics is underpinned by healthy ecosystems. (Dasgupta, 2001)

The design of healthy ecosystems delivers important benefits, two of which are;
  1. Advantage of microclimate design in modifying living environments for residents.
  2. Re-connecting people with nature while living in a very tall building.

NBM&CW August 2015

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