22 October 2019

Cover Story

HIGHRISES Towering future

 

The economy may have been headed south for a bit last year putting off the mood and spirit in the construction business, but with the subsequent mend in the doing business atmosphere, the Indian real estate skyline seems to be showing a renewed northward drift.

 

Where best can you see evidence of a towering future than in Mumbai’s Golden Mile? That is where construction on the world’s tallest residential tower is progressing at a rapid pace – over 70 per cent of the superstructure of World One is completed, with the tower having reached 83 of the 117 planned storeys.

 

The landmark building by the Lodha Group, India's largest developer and most visible real estate multinational, when completed in 2017 will stand tall at 442 metres.

Ergo when Abhishek Lodha, Managing Director, Lodha Group, is led to say, “Tall buildings are the way to go,” he is only stating the obvious.

 

In the island city strapped for space – it has a population density of about 20,482 persons per square-kilometre, a living space of 4.5 square metres per person, slums covering over 60 per cent of the total land surface– high rise construction seems to be the only solution.

 

Indeed vertical is the new horizon.

 

The idea of tall as being smart has also found resonance in the decision of the American billionaire businessman Donald Trump to set up a Trump Tower in Mumbai in collaboration with the Lodha Group, India’s most active luxury real estate developers. These apartments will also include German Poggenpohl kitchens, five-fixture master bathrooms, indoor Jacuzzis, built-in TVs, elite seven-level security, and high-end interior design. The skyscraper which will tower 75 storeys above India’s commercial capital is not only expected to redefine the city’s skyline but add to the aspiration levels of India’s crème de la crème, which now seeks the proverbial house in the clouds .

Says Sunil Mantri, Chairman & Managing Director, Mantri Realty, “We are already there as far as Mumbai is concerned but very soon the Indian skyline will start looking like New York, Hong Kong or Chicago. High rise developments are welcome but there must be a parallel effort to make regulations easy for such constructions. Installation of ground infrastructure is also a key requirement for such buildings.”

 

 

NEW URGENCY

 

Suddenly the powers that have displayed an alacrity not shown before which could further change the skyline of Urbs Prima in Indis dramatically. In what is a very clear bid to expedite stalled development the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Urban Development prescribing simplification of procedures involved in the construction of high-rise buildings. The civic body hopes to achieve ease of doing business by redefining the height minimums of high-rises from 70 meters or around 23 stories to 120 meters or about 40 stories.

 

Currently, any structure that exceeds 70 meters requires the special approval of the high-rise committee (HRC) which is responsible for confirming the structural stability of proposed towers. The BMC’s move will now ensure buildings below 120 meters don’t fall under the purview of the committee, thereby expediting the procedure to construct such buildings.

 

What is also true that apart from opportunities to build tall the recent move has opened up a huge space for quality construction which borrows from best practices seen abroad.

 

The civic move came days after the state authorities attempted to lift restrictions on the floor-space index (FSI) for construction in the city. The proposals, if implemented, are seen as contributing to a vertical growth spurt for the city over the next few years. However there is also a section of planners and environmentalists, that is wont to oppose the move on the grounds that the city does not have the necessary infrastructure and amenities to cope with such vertical growth.

 

 

PAN INDIA PUSH

 

It is not just Maximum City, the first home of Indian tall buildings, that is looking at structures which will challenge the skies.

 

There are world-class swanky high rises coming up all across India in places like New Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ahmedabad, Pune, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bengaluru courtesy firms like DB Realty, Omkar, Shreepati Group, Marathon, Kalpataru, Oberoi, Mantri, Raheja, Parsvanath, DLF, Ramprastha, 3C, Emaar MGF and the Wave Group offering top class amenities to the occupants ranging from five-star spa to concierge and butler services.

 

In Kolkata, for instance, a consortium of four builders, led by the Mani Group, is working to construct eastern India tallest residential tower – a 62-story skyscraper called ‘The 42’ on the city’s Chowringhee Road which will be completed by 2017. The project has the Hafeez Contractor stamp to it.

 

Says Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, Chief Executive Officer, Mani Group, “In metro cities, space will be always at a premium. With many cities now running out of land for development, tall buildings are becoming an increasingly attractive and necessary built form. Building tall, that is what more and more cities are now gearing up for. Nationally, the goal of transforming cities into more dense, compact and sustainable places is making them consider growing upwards rather than outwards. In our assessment, there will remain good demand for well planned and well built high rise buildings marketed at the right price.”

 

It is not just the City of Joy that is finding real estate respite via the aerial route. Even in relatively small city Vijayawada, a local real estate developer Pooja Crafted Homes has engaged architecture studio Penda from Beijing to devise Vijayawada Garden Estate, a high rise tower which will feature modular elements with which residents can customise the appearance of the building with hanging gardens and balcony details.

 

There are tremendous opportunities across India for EPC contractors, green and sustainability specialists, suppliers of building materials, landscaping artists, elevator manufacturers and consultants, climate control specialists, infrastructure firms, high rise consultants, project managers and engineers – not to mention global architects and designers. Names like Armani/Casa, Trump, Philippe Starck, Jade Jagger, Kelly Hoppen, Greg Norman and Pei Cobb Freed are becoming familiar across the Indian real estate landscape.

 

Early this month the Beirut based Arabian Construction Company (ACC) won a $78.5 million contract in Gurgaon to build phase one of the Supertech Hues project. The project is a cluster of luxury residential towers being built in the Gurgaon area. This follows a $125 million contract it had won from Supertech in nearby Noida, where it is building an 80-story, 300-meter tower named Spira which is the centerpiece of the Supernova project. The company is also building three towers for developers in Mumbai and Noida, and one in Kolkata.

 

Architects and designers too are also getting increasingly innovative. In Mumbai, CRG Architects have devised Containerscraper, which is their vision of a housing solution for the irregular shaped and densely populated Dharavi. They employed shipping containers as a volumetric unit of construction while designing two towers. To achieve a height increase for the tallest tower to maximise floor area and to provide views in all directions, they decided to use a cylindrical shape for the base of the towers. It is reported the core of both towers would be built using containers placed vertically, with elevators operating in the resulting vertical cavities.

“With greenfield smart cities being planned all over the country high rises of various categories – not to mention the supertalls – will find space. The business prospects are enormous. The sky is not the limit,” says Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Hiranandani Group of Companies.

 

 

 

 

TALL SUNRISE

It is easy to see that the tall building oomph has begun to show around the national capital. With its glitzier neighbours like Gurgaon and Noida ahead in the high rise aspiration race traditional low rise Delhi – the tallest building in Delhi at present is the 112 meter MCD Civic Centre with 28 floors – too seems to have woken up from its Lutyens hangover and appears keen to make some sort of a statement. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has now announced plans to build a commercial tower that might go up to 120 floors and become the tallest building in north India. The signature skyscraper containing offices, retail outlets and hotels will be part of a 75 acre cyberhub which will include other smaller residential towers that the DDA is planning to create in the Karkardooma area.

 

SAFETY CONSCIOUSNESS

 

What is also significant here is that such tall ambitions, whether in Delhi or anywhere in the country, are now to be accompanied by precautions. The recent earthquake in Nepal has only served to underscore the need for earthquake safety norms which are sadly not applied or are deficient in high rise buildings above 20 and 30 floors in the National Capital Region which is classified as a high-damage risk zone. According to Sandeep Shah, Country Head, Miyamoto International, an earthquake and structural engineering firm, all buildings in the NCR are currently only designed for the lowest category of earthquake performance, which is collapse prevention.

 

Says Manish Kumar, Managing Director, Strategic Consulting, JLL, "There is a need for a standard building construction code which is not present in India at the moment for very high-rise buildings. Right now there is a big mismatch in that standards made for nine to ten story buildings are applied for mid- and high-rise buildings."

 

Against that background it is interesting that the DDA which will sign a memorandum of understanding with the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) for the construction of the Kakardooma tower, a completely government-funded project, has announced that the 120 floor building will have a strong pile foundation and will not be affected by seismic activity. Construction of the tower is expected to begin within two years after all necessary approvals are in place.

 

Fire safety too is being given a major relook. In January this year fire in an under construction Mumbai high rise, which is part of a complex called Altamonte being constructed by Omkar Developers, took 14 hours to douse. The structure is supposed to be 62 stories once completed. It emerged that it took a long time for the fire brigade to douse the fire since the building was under construction and no firefighting systems had been installed in it. It is also equally true that the fire brigade doesn't have equipment to reach fires at these heights. Against such a bleak background it is heartening that the Mumbai Fire Brigade has very recently managed to acquire a new 90 meter snorkel to combat high-rise fires. It is reported the hydraulic platform can scale up to 30 floors and has a turntable ladder and elevated water pumps to conduct firefighting and rescue operations. The fire brigade is also in the process of acquiring an 81-meter ladder by 2016.

 

More important than everything else is the need for planning and detailing in all high rise projects. It is necessary to adopt elements into the intended structure at the concept and design stage itself. The single greatest barrier to progressing sustainability in tall buildings is the lack of performance reporting for successful and unsuccessful solutions. According to Tak Mathews, Elevator Consultant,

Tak Consultancy, “99 per cent of the builders in our country do not understand elevator requirement and concerns. They are only an afterthought and that works to diminish the expected returns from the building in terms of sustainability and user maximisation.”

 

Constructing floors beyond 30 floors is where technology and special skills come into play. That is where there is a deficit. For instance, a climbing form system is still not very common in India and knowledge of new building technologies which enhance interaction with architecture, but which also rigorously quantify and record environmental conditions over time is necessary. It is also imperative that life in the tall building should benefit from a vibrant mix of activities, as well as green discipline, both of which are closely tied to the building owner’s operation and management skills. It is therefore paramount to understand the qualifications of the workforce before starting work.

 

Admittedly much of these failings also come from an inborn reluctance on the part of most developers to invest in the right people, appropriate technology, and often from niggardly inadequate knowledge of the right solutions.

“India is still at the learning curve and all stakeholders must find the right solutions for the built environment if they have to make quick and qualitative progress in terms of vertical construction,” avers Chetan Raikar, Chairman & Managing Director, Structwel Designers & Consultants Pvt Ltd.

 

There is no contesting that truth. India will learn from experience, and the cues.

 

On the strength of global best practices supertalls like World One should show the country’s construction industry the way to a towering future.

 

Tall buildings - under construction

Sr

Name

City

Height (in Metres)

Floors

Expected year of completion

1

World One

Mumbai

442 m

117

2016

2

Oasis Tower 1

Mumbai

372 m

85

2016

3

World View / Queens Tower

Mumbai

360 m

90

2016

4

Palais Royale

Mumbai

320 m

75

2016

5

Omkar 1973
Tower 1

Mumbai

317 m

78

NA

6

Supernova Spira

Noida

300 m

80

2015

8

Omkar 1973 Project Tower 2

Mumbai

300 m

77

NA

9

Brys Buzz

Greater Noida

300 m

81

2015

10

Omkar 1973 Project Tower 3

Mumbai

280 m

63

NA

12

Nathani Heights

Mumbai

262 m

72

2015

13

Oasis tower 2

Mumbai

260 m

60

2018

14

North Eye

Noida

255 m

66

NA

15

Omkar Alta
Monte 1

Mumbai

250 m

73

NA

17

Four Seasons private residences tower 1

Mumbai

250 m

55

2019

18

Celestia Spaces 1

Mumbai

239 m

59[102]

2019

19

Celestia Spaces 2

Mumbai

239 m

59[102]

2019

20

Indiabulls Blu 1

Mumbai

220 m

53

NA

The list ranks buildings that are under construction and are planned in India which involves structures to rise at least 130 m (430 ft) or 40 floors or more.

 

 

Tall buildings - Approved, Proposed

Rank

Name

Status

City

Planned Height (in metres)

Floors

1

Bengaluru Turf Tower

Approved

Bengaluru

660 m

156

2

Lanco Hills Signature Tower

Approved

Hyderabad

630 m

114

3

Lodha Project Wadala

Proposed

Mumbai

530 m

101

4

Joyus Housing

Proposed

Mumbai

486 m

125

5

APIIC Tower

Approved

Hyderabad

450 m

100

6

Wearesf Tower

Approved

Bengaluru

440 m

109

7

Raheja Imperia

Proposed

Mumbai

421 m

85

8

GIFT Diamond Tower

Approved

Ahmedabad

410 m

86

9

The Imperial 3

Approved

Mumbai

400 m

116

10

Shreepati Garden Tower 1

Approved

Mumbai

400 m

110

11

Shreepati Garden Tower 2

Approved

Mumbai

400 m

110

12

Wave City Center Iconic Tower

Approved

Noida

400 m

100

The list ranks buildings that are approved or proposed and are planned to rise at least 150 m (490 ft) or 50 floors tall.

 

Global Offerings

PARIS - World’s Tallest Wood Building

Just as the Eiffel tower shattered global concepts a century and a half ago, this project when accomplished could push the envelope for wood innovation with France at the forefront. A combination of Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and DVVD has joined hands with REI France developments to propose the idea of constructing the world’s tallest wood building. The 35 storied tower called ‘Baobab’ which is a carbon-neutral proposal, developed as part of the city’s innovative Réinventer Paris competition, intends to alleviate the city’s urban housing challenges and projects a heightened focus on community. The building will reportedly contain a mix of market and social housing, a student hotel, urban agriculture, a bus station, e-car hub, and other amenities, fostering the city’s vision for a connected, vibrant metropolis and defining the next era of city architecture.

 

CHANGSHA - 57-Storey Prefabricated Skyscraper

Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a Chinese firm has reportedly constructed their latest prefabricated skyscraper in the city of Changsha J57, a 57-floor, 80,000-square-meter skyscraper has been fully built with energy-efficient, factory-produced, Lego-like blocks. The company’s architect Xian Min Zhang has claimed that BSB is now building its prefabricated skyscrapers at a record three floors per day and keeps increasing both the construction speed and the size of these buildings at an impressive rate, pointing out that the J57 represents a smaller prototype for a 220-story building, the J220 or Sky City which the company plans to build. The J57 building has 19 atriums of 10 meters’ height each, 800 apartments, and office space for 4,000 people. It is reported the use of modular construction technique reduced the use of concrete by 15,000 trucks, thus eliminating all dust normally released during conventional construction. The air inside the building is 99.9 percent pure, thanks to the tight construction and built-in air conditioning system.

 

ROTWEIL- Tallest elevator test tower

A unique elevator test tower is being constructed in Rottweil, Germany by ThyssenKrupp Elevator. Barely less than ten months of construction the company has held a topping out ceremony with the concrete tube of the tower reaching its full height of 232 meters, which is the level of the proposed viewing platform thanks to an innovative slipforming technique.. It is reported in the coming days the final structures will be added on top before interior work starts on the tower, the tallest in Baden-Württemberg. The structure is slated to be completed and go into operation at the end of 2016. The last piece of construction, bringing the tower to its final height of 246 meters, will then follow with completion of the façade. Among the technologies of the future that will be tested in Rottweil is the new MULTI system, powered by maglev technology, which was unveiled at the end of 2014 and is currently in the prototype phase

 

FRANKFURT- Building with Shifting Floor Plates

In a project described both as classical and sculptural the Copenhagen- and New York-based Bjarke Ingels Group has won a competition to design a 185-meter ‘mixed’ skyscraper in Frankfurt's downtown financial district. The building to be put together in partnership with Austrian engineering firm Bollinger + Grohmann has been conceived as a simple rectilinear form with two sculptural interventions incorporating all the elements of a real city with spaces for living and working, inside as well as outside. It is reported floor plates will be shifted at both the base and the center of the tower to mark clear boundaries between the building's different functions, with sections dedicated to apartments, offices, and public uses. While the office floors will be housed in the upper levels of the 65,000-square-meter tower, residential floors will be in the middle, where the shifted floor plates will create generous space for terraces. The base of the structure will open out onto a new public square creating a striking new silhouette on Frankfurt's skyline.




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