The survival of humanity on this planet relies on a radical repositioning of our cities. In the face of unprecedented global population growth, urbanisation, pollution increase and climate change, it is no longer enough to simply create buildings that minimise their environmental footprint. The reduction of operating and embodied energy consumption in every single building is, of course, vitally important – but even this is likely not enough to mitigate the huge issues at stake. We need to start considering how every building can start working with others in a harmonious urban whole – by maximising urban/building infrastructure, sharing resources, generating and storing energy, and looking for completely new ways to improve the building’s contribution to the city; physically, environmentally, culturally, and socially.
Cities thus need to be thought of, and buildings planned for, in all three dimensions – they cannot just be vehicles for isolated programs and expressed as products of two-dimensional zoning plans and height limits. Each stratified horizon of a tower has an opportunity to draw from the characteristics of the city and external environment, both of which vary widely with height. Wind, sun, rain, temperature, and urban grain are not the same through 360 degrees of plan or 360 meters of height, and our buildings need to both recognise, and draw opportunity from, that.
This will be the primary subject of debate at the CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference. The discussion will drive thinking beyond just buildings, to considering cities as a whole. What best practices are some cities in the world already doing, and what else can be done? Thus join the world’s leading owners, developers, contractors, architects, planners, engineers, policy makers and others in Shanghai, to work together to rethink our cities; to develop them beyond a collection of disparate icons, towards a vision of a connected, maximised, Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.