The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat released its annual tall buildings industry predications last month. They include a novel firefighting method that uses jetpacks and simulators to battle blazes high in the sky; a shift from luxury condo towers to high-rise apartments; a rare concrete-clad high-rise in Mexico City that shuns the all-glass trend; and a debate over aviation height regulations.
Here’s a sampling of CTBUH’s top predictions for 2016 (text courtesy CTBUH; see the full list):
Dubai will fight fires with jetpacks. Dubai will potentially revolutionize its high-rise firefighting scheme when 20 jetpacks and two simulators are delivered to the city’s Civil Defense Authority. The jetpacks will be able to operate for up to 30 minutes at ranges between 30 and 50 kilometers and altitudes of up to 900 meters. While we aren’t hoping for any fires, it will be interesting to see if this new technology performs as intended. Many in the industry remain skeptical.
Torre Reforma marks shift away from a generation of tall buildings with all-glass façades. When Mexico City’s Torre Reforma completes in early 2016, it will not only be Mexico’s tallest building, but will signal a major departure from conventional façade design. Its exterior eschews the typical glass curtain wall in favor of a structural concrete exterior on two sides, reducing the cooling load for the building by mitigating overall sun exposure. As tall buildings continue to embrace energy efficient design, the all-glass façade may indeed be losing its luster.
Torre Reforma, Mexico City. Rendering courtesy torrereforma.com
Developers will diversify residential offerings as global luxury markets saturate. The boom in luxury condominium towers is likely to slow down in 2016 as many of the biggest markets such as London, New York, and Dubai near saturation points. In New York, “Billionaires’ Row” has seen no major new proposals while some under-construction buildings have begun reconfiguring units to create more affordable condos. As the luxury boom slows, expect the rental apartment sector to gain steam with perhaps more emphasis on affordability.
Cities to debate impact of aviation height regulations on tall buildings. Tall buildings have always caused headaches for aviation authorities, who are tasked with determining safe flight paths for takeoffs and landings near major cities. In 2015, a number of major projects in the United States, Australia, and China among other countries hinged on the approval of federal aviation authorities. As several of these disputes come to a head in the coming year, cities will begin to question the impact of these national dictums.
MahaNakhon signifies Bangkok’s global reemergence. At 314 meters, the pixilated MahaNakhon tower will be the tallest building in Bangkok and Thailand when it completes in June, after topping out in April 2015. The 75-story residential and hotel tower seeks to transform its surrounding neighborhood, interplaying with a nearby mixed-use building that establishes an inviting public atmosphere at ground level. As Bangkok’s premier development, it is poised to announce the cities presence on a global stage as investment continues to pour into Thailand’s capital.
Full-scale testing will begin on MULTI elevators after completion of Rottweil Test Tower. With the completion of the 246-meter Rottweil Test Tower—one of the tallest structures in Germany—ThyssenKrupp will begin full-scale testing on its MULTI elevator technology. The transformative vertical transportation technology is set to redefine the way that elevator systems are implemented in skyscrapers. Using magnetic technology, elevators will be placed on tracks that can run vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. A 1:3 scale model of MULTI was unveiled in Spain in November 2015.