Glocal Elevation


Tall buildings have been the purview of developed nations for a long time. These building have become an icon of ‘development’ – whether it was through reaching record new heights, or promulgating advancement in design and technology. The tide has been shifting, and more tall buildings are being conceived in developing nations today. And with this trend, we see how local context and aspirations are shaping the skyscrapers of the new millennium.

“Developing economies have a huge impact on the current trend of tall building construction. Whereas the skyscraper historically was limited to North America, today it is a truly international typology, with the highest levels of construction in Asia. If we look at Mumbai, in particular, it currently has 42 towers of 150m or taller; yet there are more than double this [number] either proposed or under construction (another 57 to be precise),” shares Dr.Philip Oldfield, senior lecturer in High Performance Architecture, UNSW Built Environment (Australia), and former research coordinator at CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat), Chicago.

Many see these numbers gradually increasing, as stateslook at increasing their urban footprint. “Given the focusof the Government of India for the Smart Cities project, it is projected that by 2050, India will add 404 million urban dwellers (Source: United Nations Report). To accommodate the number of new residents, the rise of vertical constructions will increase considerably,” states Gangaprasad G, head – Commercial Building Services, Grundfos Pumps India.

Even in existing cities, tall buildings are considered a defining solution to urban woes. “Unlike other economies in which the development has happened in a holistic manner, India’s development has been in clusters – which has made already densely developed metros ever more gasping for space. Hence, tall buildings hold the key,” expresses Partha Banik, president, Indiabulls LED Business.

Architect Sabeena Khanna, founding principal, Studio KIA, also believes that India is making its mark in the field of tall structures in the residential, office, hospitality and mixeduse domains. “Advancement in engineering solutions combined with out-of-the-box creative design ideas, cutting-edge technologies, new material inventions and even high-speed elevators are changing the dynamics of the game.”

And when development takes more contextual root, the definition of tall buildings will vary from city to city. “There is no set definition of a tall building, and it varies with context in different cities; so, what may be considered a tall building in a tier-2 city may not be considered tall in a dense metropolis such as Mumbai,” explains architect Reza Kabul, principal, ARK. Each individual city will, however, still see these highrise investments as representation of their economic power and a sign of advantage to the country.

Architect Yatin Patel, founder director, DSP Associates, believes that building tall can be aptly considered as a response to needs and aspirations of the end consumer, but its adoption is subjected to individual city regulations. He notes, “The trend is skewed towards development of tall structures as much as possible. Tall structures have also been a growing trend in other metro cities in the country, primarily due to the location being sought-after or relaxation of FAR (floor-area ratio) rules for select areas where the Government has come out with new rules where they allow more FAR on the same plot, like the TOD (transit-oriented development) policy.”

But there have been significant changes for the better in the way tall buildings are being built in the country, as per Leslie