This adaptable framework could allow the fabric of an entire block-section to be changed to a different material, such as timber, or internally reconfigured to suit differing use. This separation – villages within a vertical city – creates further opportunity: with plant levels spread more evenly throughout the volume, the core and risers require less floor area, while the services’ adaptability is enhanced. We create a universal, infinitely reusable tall building.
Tall buildings are no longer limited to simple extrusions of a single floor plate. An independent operation of vertical or horizontal sections will allow services and circulatory layouts to be optimised for each use. Residential floors can be served by centralised cores, while office floors can be served by cores at one edge to create large, uninterrupted functional areas. Amenities and other uses can be provided not just at ground level, but throughout the building’s height.
Technology will continue to inform the tall building’s function and appearance. Recent vertical-transportation advances, such as double-decker lift cars, require fewer lift shafts and thus allow more efficient core areas. Soon, ‘free movement’ lifts may surpass these, with cars operating both vertically and horizontally, and independently sharing shafts. This will doubtlessly accelerate the rise of interconnected tall-building clusters, wherein buildings are no longer designed as stand-alone structures. Connective links may share more than just circulation, forming each cluster into a resilient, true vertical city.
With cores no longer expanding proportionally with building height, a paradigm shift in tall-building engineering could bring in adaptable, permeable ‘soft cores’, opening up multiple avenues for building stability, while other structural elements resist horizontal load. A perimetral structure allows greater efficiency, and can multitask as a passive envelope element when taken beyond the thermal line; becoming an exoskeleton, and part of the architectural appearance.
The Central Bank of Iraq: a structural exoskeleton driven by environmental strategy