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Putting tall buildings in focus

One city the size of Manchester will be built every two weeks in China, if that country’s programme of urbanisation continues, says an international expert on tall buildings.

And engineers and architects need to dream up new ideas to meet the challenge faced by the increasing urbanisation of China, a major international conference has been told.

Dr Hossein Rezai, group director of Web Structures, chaired a successful symposium on tall buildings attended by experts from across the globe.

Major players in the world of high rise design and construction attended the prestigious Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) event in London.

Speakers included Graham Stirk of Rogers Stirk Harbour architects; Tony Jordan, vice president of business development, Canary Wharf Group; Keith Griffiths, chairman of AEDAS international architects and Peter Rees, the chief planning officer for the City of London Corporation.

Among the issues discussed at the conference was the increasing urbanisation in China and the crucial role tall building construction is playing in that process.

Speaking after the conference, Dr Rezai said the challenge facing architects and engineers was coming up with new ideas and methods to meet the demands of the next generation of tall buildings.

He said: “The conference was attended by the premier league of the profession when it comes to tall buildings.

“A number of high-profile projects were discussed and examined from an architectural, design and structural engineering perspective.

“Delegates were also given a fascinating insight into the urbanisation process in China and its need to develop existing cities or build new ones.

“The programme requires the completion of two cities the size of Manchester every fortnight and tall buildings are playing a key role in that process.

“The Chinese are beginning to get to a situation where for them a 50 or 60 storey building is not considered to be very tall.”

He added: “Development projects in London were also discussed. In the global scale of things the latest developments we are seeing on the UK capital’s skyline are nowhere near the height we are seeing in other parts of the world.

“The conference was successful in that it helped to consolidate our existing knowledge when it comes to the construction of tall buildings.

“The challenge for us all now is to come up with new ideas and methods of construction as buildings continue to grow in height.

“It is a question of building on our existing knowledge when it comes to design and to look at different ways of creating and constructing structures that meet the demands of the next generation of tall buildings.”

Dubai’s 355-metre JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 2 was the tallest building completed in 2013.

Dr Rezai believes a 1km-tall building could be completed within the next decade and this will require a different method of construction. New materials and technologies are the key, he said.

He added: “Developers are now looking for lighter materials such as prefabricated steel; dry construction floor panels; reinforced expanded polystyrene.”

Delegates to the ICE conference were told: “The challenges posed by tall building design are amongst the most complex encountered in engineering; their whole existence is a delicate balance between economics, engineering and construction management.

“Engineers on tall buildings are often at the forefront of utilising new technologies and techniques, or pushing existing/established ones to extremes.

“They are usually amongst the first to be affected by developments made in material science and research. Often these filter down to conventional builds.”

Dr Rezai founded Web Structures in August 1996 in Singapore and has since been involved in the design and realisation of some 450 highly impressive engineering projects in more than 27 countries, including 52 skyscrapers, bespoke resorts and special structures worldwide. The practice has an expanding office in London.

He has also been involved in teaching and education through work at the National University of Singapore, writing and speaking at conferences and seminars.

He is very passionate about the design process, and a holistic approach to architecture and structure, with recent involvement with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture as an official nominator.


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