The ‘106’ and ‘118’ towers.


Whenever you see a postcard depicting city skyline of Kuala Lumpur, you will see KL Tower on the left and Petronas Twin Towers on the right with other shorter buildings occupying the rest of the picture. If you have been to Kuala Lumpur years ago and happened to be returning to the city recently, you would notice a dramatic change to the city skyline; there are a lot more new buildings being constructed in the city making it denser than before. The most noticeable would be one massive new tower now situated right in the middle of the view usually depicted in the city postcard as mentioned earlier.

It is the Exchange 106 Tower. It is a massive 106-storey tall office tower on the planned new financial district of Kuala Lumpur called Tun Razak Exchange. It is still under construction but has already topped out months ago to its final architectural height of 445 metres. Previously, many people including media and even the developer informed the public that the tower will be 492 metres high and will become the country’s new tallest building (dethroning the 452-metres tall Petronas twin Towers). However, after some research and study on its sectional drawing, I can confirm to you that the building will be only 445 metres as accurately shown in the CTBUH’s Skyscraper Center database.

The earlier claim of 492m is actually referring to the height of the tower when measured from the sea level. Exchange 106 Tower is indeed only 445m tall and is 7m shorter than Petronas Twin Towers. Nevertheless, it is still a huge skyscraper and its dominant presence in the city now is of no doubt. The tower will still hold the record for being the first building in South East Asia to have over 100 floors. The skeletal framing of the tower’s majestic crown is completed and work is on-going now for the installation of specially-made glass cladding to the crown. The tower is expected to be completed by end of this year.

Petronas Twin Towers remain as the country’s tallest buildings but that won’t last for long. Another building planned to reach a whopping 644m is currently under construction in the city too. It is the Merdeka PNB118 Tower. This tower is currently rising pretty fast and is now already towering over that region occupied by historical and low-rise buildings. When completed in 2021 (most probably will top out in 2020), it will be among the world’s top 5 tallest buildings. A mixed-use tower of 118 floors, PNB118 Tower goes beyond the 600m-mark thanks to its extremely long spire on its top.

That’s how it will look like when completed (rendering of the project superimposed onto the current construction progress image).

Can’t wait to see them fully completed and looking forward to more new skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur.

(Images in this post are from Skyscraper City forum webpages)

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UN Studio + Cox Architecture won the competition to design Australia’s tallest building.


A competition to design Australia’s tallest building in the city of Melbourne made headlines recently as it has drawn entries from some of the world’s best known architects. BIG, MAD, MVRDV and OMA architects have made it into the shortlist but it was UN Studio + Cox Architecture‘s scheme that has won the competition as announced recently. This international design competition calls for a mixed-use development at Southbank, Melbourne by Beulah International developer and is set to break ground in 2020.

Their scheme which is nicknamed ‘Green Spine’ features a pair of twisting towers where greenery will burst through the facing facades of both towers as they rise and twist towards each other. The skyscraper is then crowned with a publicly accessible botanical garden. The taller tower will reach 356.2 metres and become the country’s tallest building (currently Q1 Tower in Gold Coast is the record holder with 322 metres in height). This taller taller houses the residences while the other shorter taller (252.2 metres high…still tall though) contains offices and hotels.

Plenty of public spaces, school, cinema, library, restaurants, bars and shops filled the base of the tower that spreads out from the terracing facade above to meet the ground. The natural materials forming the greenery and outdoor spaces blends harmoniously with the glazed facades. I do like this winning scheme. We already have twisting sksycrapers in many parts of the world and it would be nice to see Melbourne having one too.

Here below are the other 5 shortlisted designs:

‘Urban Tree’ by MAD Architects + Elenberg Fraser – A 360-metres high ‘mountain village’ surrounded by foothills, with a hotel shaped like an illuminated cloud near its peak. The tapering tower will have its glass facade pierced with trees.

‘Lanescraper’ by BIG + Fender Katsalidis Architects – Two 359.6 metres high interlocking blocks with voids created between that contains public spaces and lanes of different themes (Melbourne is famous for having many happening lanes on the ground and BIG attempts to have them on the sky in this scheme).

‘Propeller City’ by Coop Himmelb(l)au + Architectus – A 335-metres high tower shaped like a tri-blade propeller and is topped with a penthouse with its own private landscape garden and pool.

‘Stack’ by MVRDV + Woods Bagot – A single tower of 359 metres high that features different textures to its facade to represent the various stacked neighbourhoods. The center of the tower has a hotel’s pool with an underwater glass window.

‘Vertical City’ by OMA + Conrad Gargett – A skyscraper with a simple form and a higher emphasis to the foot of the tower that features a colourful take on the traditional vaulted markets and arcades found in Melbourne. A vertical city will be built between arches supporting a rainbow-coloured facade.

References:

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/08/15/unstudio-cox-melbourne-australias-tallest-building-architecture/

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/07/27/big-mad-mvrdv-oma-unstudio-and-coop-himmelblau-shortlisted-melbourne-skyscraper/

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/australia-tallest-building-intl/index.html

 

 

 

Malaysian Prime Ministers’ legacy in the form of skyscrapers.


It’s June 9th today and that means exactly one month has passed since the Malaysia’s 14th General Election. This election is particularly historic as it marked the first time in history of the country that the opposition won, defeating the ruling coalition that has been the government since independence 61 years ago. Datuk Seri Najib’s time as Prime Minister was over and he also resigned as President of his Malay-based party, UMNO. Tun Mahathir get to return to the Prime Minister he once held before for 22 years in the past, and this time he is representing Pakatan Harapan, and not Barisan Nasional. A lot of changes were immediately implemented, partly to fulfill the alliance’s manifesto and also partly to ‘cleanse’ the governing systems of the country.

It’s unfortunate that Najib is still roaming freely although he is supposed to be arrested for all the crimes and wrongdoings he and his wife had done, and all the troubles he had contributed to all Malaysians. Both of them of course denied all of it but hopefully the truth will prevail. So many cash, jewelleries and handbags found in their various homes and they claimed those are their personal items, gifts from the others, and money belonging to the UMNO party. What a joke! Dumb lies, one after another! Remember the 2.6 billion in his private bank account and he stated that it is a donation from Arab. He and his cronies should not exist by now already.

Pakatan government is doing a good job so far. If they have not been doing well, we will kick them out in the next election too. However, as for now, we should gave them time and chance since this is their first time on the federal level (except Mahathir) without any prior experience, and they have to continue on to resolve all the ‘shits’ (such as the sky high national debt) that BN had left in the past. Hopefully, we will be hearing more good news to all Malaysians. In this one month alone, we have already been greeted with a number of positive news like abolishing of GST, freeing of Anwar Ibrahim, commencement of full investigation on 1MDB scandal, etc.

Najib is no longer in power but his so-called ‘legacy’ is still highly visible in the form of a skyscraper in the heart of the city of Kuala Lumpur. The Exchange 106 Tower which will be 106 storeys and 492 metres tall when completed is nearing the topping out stage. The skyscraper is in the Tun Razak Financial District project under the scandal-hit 1MDB. The structural steel work for the crown of the tower is concluding and that means the tower is now reaching its final height. Some sources said it will be only 446 metres tall but some said it will be 492 metres. There’s a confusion there, probably due to the variance by different parties on where the height is measured from. I think it stands taller than 452-metres tall Petronas Twin Towers and so The Echange 106 will probably be 492 metres tall. Here’s some latest images of the tower.

Another much taller tower is also approved under Najib’s tenure as Prime Minister in the past. The PNB118 Tower which will be more than 600 metres high when completed is currently under construction too. But for this project, it is still a long way to go before completion.

These two projects are often seen as the way Najib left a mark on the capital just like the iconic Petronas Twin Towers during Tun Mahathir’s time as the fourth prime minister previously. I’m not against these new rising towers (only against the people behind it), but I do really sometime question the need of more supertall office sksycrapers in the city which is still considered small and already has plenty of vacant office spaces.

(Images in this post are from skyscrapercity.com)

 

Oasia Hotel Downtown won ‘Best Tall Building Worldwide’ at 16th CTBUH Awards.


Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore has been selected by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) end of last month as the winner of ‘Best Tall Building Worldwide’ in its 16th Annual CTBUH Awards. Oasia Hotel Downtown was chosen from among the four regional Best Tall Building winners.

American Copper Buildings won for Best Tall Building Americas, Oasia Hotel Downtown is named the Best Tall Building Asia & Australasia; Best Tall Building Europe went to The Silo; and Zeitz MOCAA for Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa.

The visually-striking Oasia Hotel Downtown stands out amongst the gray and blue high-rises of Singapore with its plant-covered façade of red and green, which connects to the green of the cityscape. Landscaping is used extensively as an architectural surface treatment, and forms a major part of the development’s material palette, with a total of 54 species of plants climbing along the aluminum mesh façade screen. With a substantial commitment to outdoor communal space through the incorporation of “skyspaces” along its height, the tower provides respite and relief to its occupants, neighbors, and city. “This project won not only because it incorporates 60 stories of green walls along the exterior,” said CTBUH Executive Director and Awards Juror Antony Wood, “but because of its significant commitment to communal space. The tower has given over 40 percent of its volume to open air communal terraces in the sky.”

I have the opportunity to view this building a couple of times as it is located right at the downtown of Singapore. Although it is not as tall as some of its neighbouring buildings, but it stood out from its distinctive red-coloured aluminium mesh facade coupled with greens all over the four sides of the building. The appearance breaks away from typical glass tower block or monstrous solid mass while the detailed design thought to the communal spaces is a plus point.

American Copper Buildings is a dual-tower residential skyscraper in New York City, USA. It is a venturesome and highly visible architectural statement clad in copper that addresses the area’s dual need for affordable housing and climate resiliency. The two towers are designed such that they appear to “dance” with each other. They are also connected by a bridge approximately 300 feet from the ground, which will be three levels in height.

The Silo in Copenhagen, Denmark is a 17-storey former grain silo that is now turned into a residential apartment. Exterior of the existing silo is reclad, while its interior has been preserved as raw and untouched as possible. An angular faceted exterior facade made of galvanized steel has been installed to serve as a limate shield. This has allowed the building’s characteristic slender tall shape to be maintained.

Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa underwent a similar approach with The Silo in Copenhagen. Zeitz MOCAA is formerly a grain silo building too and is now trasnformed into a contemporary art museum. Using a variety of concrete-cutting techniques, the interior of the building was carved out to create a number of galleries and a large central atrium. The remaining concrete shafts were capped with strengthened glass in order to allow natural light to enter and create a “cathedral-like” interior. I am in awe of the result of this concrete-cutting design approach. The space created looks awesome and I personally find that this is more deserving to win Best Tall Building Worldwide.

In addition to the regional and overall Best Tall Building winners, a number of other award recipients were recognized at the conference, including the World Trade Center Master Plan for the Urban Habitat Award; MULTI for the Innovation Award; The EY Centre for the Construction Award; New York Times Tower for the 10 Year Award (2007 Completions); and Shanghai World Financial Center for the 10 Year Award (2008 Completions). In all, the 10 awards winners were chosen from a group of 48 Finalist projects representing 28 countries.

Reference:

http://tallinnovation2018.com/winners/

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Quick Architectural Tour in Singapore


I was in Singapore the past few days in a sudden move. Besides than attending a job interview, I also take this opportunity to travel around in this gorgeous island and visit some architectural icons. Besides than facing the interview with huge anxiety, I was actually enjoying the rest of my brief 3 days 2 nights trip to Singapore. The total cost spent on this trip is less than RM900. This amount covers bus ride to and from Singapore, parking fee at bus terminal, stay at budget hotel (not hostel), meals, phone data, and public transport in Singapore.

Here are 7 architectural icons in Singapore that I have visited during the trip:

1 – DUO Towers (Architect: Ole Scheeren, Year completed: 2017)

I am very intrigued by the unique form, hexagonal patterns and the balance of rigid geometry with curving surfaces of this complex of twin towers. They gave the design an overwhelming presence.

2 – The Gateway (Architect: I.M. Pei, Year completed: 1990)

This twin towers are located just opposite the DUO Towers and the former are here much earlier. A very simple modernist approach but still leaves a striking impression due to its sharp edges and angle that contributes optical illusion.

3 – Marina Bay Sands (Architect: Moshe Safdie, Year completed: 2010)

A ship-like structure suspended above three towers is definitely one of the landmarks of Singapore.

4 – Parkroyal on Pickering (Architect: WOHA, Year completed: 2013)

Massive curvaceous sky gardens and undulating layers of precast concrete forming parts of the design that created similar image to eroded rock formations are the highlights of this hotel building.

5 – The Pinnacle @ Duxton (Architect: ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism, Year completed: 2009)

An upmarket public housing project in Singapore, The Pinnacle @ Duxton features 7 residential towers with 2 sky decks that connect all of them. The highest sky deck at the 50th floor is accessible to the public.

6 – The Hive, Nanyang Technological University (Architect: Heatherwick Studio, Year completed: 2015)

A very unique university building. The design goes beyond the stereotype classroom layout; all the learning spaces are in circular plan with no corners to encourage collaboration. The building has a naturally ventilated central atrium surrounded by shared circulation spaces and informal garden terraces. The outer appearance of this building really reminds me of stacked ‘dimsum baskets’.

7 – The Interlace (Architect: OMA + Ole Scheeren, Year completed: 2013)

Multiple residential blocks stacked in playful manner while creating picturesque voids, dramatic overhangs and numerous courtyards, pools and gardens for the residents.  ‘The Interlace’ won Best Building of the Year from World Architecture Festival in 2015.

I do enjoy this kind of trip whereby I can visit and experience some amazing architectural projects. I hope for more of such trips in near future to other places too. Singapore is certainly a city with luxurious and unorthodox architecture that one should explore if you are an architectural enthusiast like me.

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this post)

B.V. Doshi wins Pritzker Architecture Prize 2018


You may not have heard his name. I didn’t know who he is before today. B.V. Doshi (Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi) is the winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize, the highest honour presented annually to a living architect and is often referred as the Nobel Prize of architecture. Although he is not as popular as those star architects, but he now joined the elite group of past Pritzker winners such as Richard Meier, Oscar Niemeyer, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, Toyo Ito, etc. He is the first Indian architect to win the prize.

Excerpt below is from an article in Archdaily (https://www.archdaily.com/890126/balkrishna-doshi-named-2018-pritzker-prize-laureatez):

Doshi has been a practitioner of architecture for over 70 years. Previously, he had studied and worked with both Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Doshi’s poetic architecture draws upon Eastern influences to create a body of work that “has touched lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres since the 1950s,” cites the jury. 

Born in Pune, India in 1927, Doshi began his studies in architecture in the year of his country’s independence, 1947. After a period in London, he moved to France to work under Le Corbusier, and from there he returned to India in order to oversee work on Le Corbusier’s plans for Chandigarh, and on Le Corbusier’s projects in Ahmedabad such as the Mill Owner’s Association Building (1954) and Shodhan House (1956). Doshi also later worked with Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, beginning in 1962.

Since founding his practice Vastushilpa (now known as Vastushilpa Consultants) in 1956, Doshi has combined the lessons learned from these two modern masters with a local sensibility. His distinctly Indian form of critical regionalism synthesizes the sculptural concrete and brick forms of his mentors with recognizably Indian architectural layouts and urban morphologies. One of the clearest manifestations of this style is perhaps his own studio, known as Sangath, where striking concrete barrel vaults are combined with gardens, sunken communal spaces, and water features to mitigate the heat. In 1978, Doshi founded the Vastushilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design to develop planning and design approaches suited to the Indian cultural context; today, the foundation serves as a crucial link between the academy and the architectural profession.

In over 100 projects completed during his career, Doshi has also worked on a number of low-cost housing developments. After completing his first in the 1950s, he stated that “It seems I should take an oath and remember it for my lifetime: to provide the lowest class with the proper dwelling.” The apotheosis of this oath was perhaps the Aranya Low Cost Housing development in Indore. Completed in 1989, this network of houses, courtyards and internal pathways provides housing for over 80,000 people ranging from low- to middle-income families, and won Doshi the 1993-1995 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Some of B.V. Doshi’s past projects are Sangath – B.V. Doshi’s Office at Ahmedabad (first picture), LIC Housing at Ahmedabad (second picture), Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (third picture), Amdavad ni Gufa (underground art gallery) at Ahmedabad (fourth picture), Aranya Low Cost Housing at Indore (fifth picture), Kamala House at Ahmedabad (sixth picture), etc.

In recent years, the jury behind selection of Pritzker Prize winners is more inclined towards selecting those who use architecture to contribute critically to the community and to the lower class society rather than opting for those with highly popular names attached with ‘loud’ and extravagant projects. It is a good move.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

 

World’s Ten Tallest Cities in 2018


I have written a post on the top 10 tallest buildings that will be completed this year (2018) few days ago. Now, it’s time to proceed to another similar topic; world’s top 10 tallest cities in 2018. How do I decide which cities are taller? Taking reference from Ultrapolis Project website that sorted world’s tallest cities several years ago (and is now no longer doing so, hence the statistics on its website not being updated), I look to add up the height of top 20 tallest buildings in a particular city and divide them by 20 to get the average height of 20 tallest buildings in that city.

At first, I look to only add up the height of top 10 tallest buildings in a city only, and not 20. However, later I found that top 20 will make the data more credible and better visualize the ‘tallness’ of a city. Buildings mentioned here include the topped-out ones but exclude the telecommunication or observation towers as they are non-habitable structures. The list of top 20 tallest buildings of the cities across the world can be found from Emporis website, and it is a very reliable source of information besides than Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Before going down the list below, which cities do you think will be included in this list and which one of them is the tallest of them all?

WORLD’S TOP TEN TALLEST CITIES IN 2018

1.Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Points: 374.35

Tallest building in the city: Burj Khalifa (828 metres)

2. Shenzhen, China

Points: 338.60

Tallest building in the city: Ping An International Finance Center (599 metres)

3. New York City, United States of America

Points: 313.70

Tallest building in the city: One World Trade Center (541 metres)

4. Guangzhou, China

Points: 311.50

Tallest building in the city: CTF Finance Centre (530 metres)

5. Shanghai, China

Points: 311.25

Tallest building in the city: Shanghai Tower (632 metres)

6. Hong Kong, China

Points: 295.30

Tallest building in the city: International Commerce Centre (484 metres)

7. Tianjin, China

Points: 290.00

Tallest building in the city: Goldin Finance 117 (597 metres)

8. Chicago, United States of America

Points: 280.70

Tallest building in the city: Willis Tower (442 metres)

9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Points: 275.90

Tallest building in the city: The Exchange 106 (492 metres)

10. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Points: 267.30

Tallest building in the city: Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid (382 metres)

Hong Kong would have topped this list a decade or two ago. However, many other cities in China are now in skyscraper boom and some of them immediately overtake Hong Kong in the race to build taller skyscrapers. Hong Kong appears to have slow down a lot in recent years on that progress, and is now pushed down to 6th spot. China dominated the list again as expected with 5 of its cities in this top 10 list. I am also surprised that a much less known city, Tianjin made it to the list too. Although China is the top country in this trend of building supertalls, Dubai still took the crown for being the world’s tallest cities in 2018. A lot of points to push Dubai to the top definitely comes from Burj Khalifa, which stands at a whopping 828 metres high alone and is still the current world’s tallest building.

I’m delighted that my home city, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is within this top 10 list. Although KL is quite a small city, but we do have a number of tall skyscrapers. I have decided to include in the still under-construction The Exchange 106 Tower (492 metres tall) into the calculation because this building is definitely going to be completed this year and is nearly at the stage of topping out now.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)