The city now has 455 high-rise projects in the pipelines. London is not an exception: the tower business is booming, due to the concentration of populations in cities. However, at a time when there is an increasing amount of criticism of the ecological footprints of high-rise buildings, the race towards the sky can no longer be the main argument of vertical urban planning.
A wooden future?
Towers and other skyscrapers are thus undergoing an ecological evolution. Today researchers are focusing on the feasibility of wooden towers: crossed laminated timber is now enabling architects and engineers to envisage buildings of a size that would have been unthinkable a century ago. Woodrise – the world’s first congress on medium and high-rise wooden buildings – has recently been held in Bordeaux. While it is undeniable that there has been much technical progress, and that there is a real enthusiasm for wooden buildings, these constructions still need to demonstrate their strength and resilience. How will these buildings handle extreme weather events or major fires?
Renovation is Also Changing
In Paris, towers are (almost) back in style, with a dozen skyscrapers (over 100m tall) now under construction or scheduled. This is not just the result of a change of mentality or political will. The building sites will integrate the new challenges of town planning. Consider the Montparnasse Tower for example, on September 19 2017 its metamorphosis was finally entrusted to three Parisian architectural agencies, grouped under the name of Nouvelle AOM. The collective promises to make the tower low carbon, economical, multifunctional and better integrated into the city, while also adding an 18m greenhouse that will be perched on top of its 210m summit. This highly ambitious technical challenge must be accomplished before the opening of the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.