The Tall Buildings Conference and Exhibition returned for a second year but to overcome the current COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 event organisers looked to digital technology to provide a solution.
Tall buildings present unique challenges in terms of design and construction. The Tall Buildings Conference focused on iconic structures and innovations in building technology in the UK high-rise sector. The event facilitated learning and knowledge transfer and provided a platform for discussion and debate.
Chair for the day Lara Kinneir, Director at Place Agency, kicked off proceedings by offering an overview of the sector and invited the eminent speakers to 'take centre stage' at the virtual Tall Buildings Conference.
London's Tall Building Boom
Peter Murray, Curator in Chief of New London Architecture (NLA) took delegates on a whistle stop tour of London's superstructures and explained how we fell out of love with tall residential buildings, but the iconic developments in Canary Wharf changed all that. Peter spoke with authority on the various tall clusters and explained how many residential towers are now at the higher end of the residential property market.
In 2014 the NLA started the London Tall Buildings Survey and it was clear that no one, not even the Mayor of London at the time, Boris Johnson – understood the number of towers in the planning and development stages. The first report identified 236 tall buildings in development of circa 20 – 29 storeys with a few at 60 plus storeys. The survey continues to this day on an annual basis.
Residential High Rise in London
Gary Le Carpentier, Technical Director for Ramboll talked delegates through the structures of the Merano Residences on the Albert Embankment; 250 City Road a 52 storey development in Islington; Riverlight located in Wandsworth and Wood Wharf Buildings A2 & A3 on the Isle of Dogs. In a highly technical presentation, Gary shared his expertise on the use of modern methods of construction and talked in detail about the use of steel and precast concrete. Gary led the Ramboll teams who designed these prestigious high-rise developments and is also the precast design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) lead for Ramboll and is actively involved in the design of precast structures.
Case Study – 100 Broad Street, Birmingham
Adam McPartland, Director at Glancy Nicholls presented a detailed case study of a two-tower scheme, 100 Broad Street – which includes a 61-storey slender hybrid concrete and steel tower. Encompassing 500 apartments, amenity facilities, with commercial elements on the ground floor – the primary tower is topped with a panoramic glass 'crown' containing a sky lounge and fine dining restaurant. Adam opened by offering context to the demographics and growth of Birmingham and explained how site analysis and the urban strategy together with historical research, shaped the building's form. Creating a dramatic silhouette, the primary tower is the key pinnacle feature at the forefront of Birmingham's tall building cluster zone.
Case Study – One Black Friars
Ian Simpson, Founding Partner of SimpsonHaugh expressed his love of tall buildings from an early age and related his experience to his Mancunian heritage. One Blackfriars is a mixed-use development in Bankside, London. The development is made up of a 52-storey tower and two smaller buildings of six and four storeys. Uses include residential apartments, a hotel and retail. Ian described One Black Friars as a piece of art which is full of light and relates to the dynamic form of the river. The building has an elegant smooth skin, tapering to a small footprint. Ian argues tall buildings are not a panacea but are part of the offer which is evolving to incorporate green spaces and wellbeing within high-rise buildings that deliver the necessary, attractively.