29 May 2020

Table of Contents for Tall Buildings

Tall Buildings

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Scraping the sky


India’s real estate skyline seems to be showing a progressively northward thrust


Early this month a Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) report on tall buildings completed across the world during 2015 placed the 54-storey, 249 m, Ahuja Towers leaping up at Mumbai’s Worli as 36th in the list of global skyscorchers. 


While this one may not have been a record breaker real estate fashionistas across India’s skyscraper city are waiting eagerly now for Lodha’s 117-storey, 442 metre World One tower to be soon completed to give it the status of the world’s tallest residential tower.


Admittedly there is the element of thrill in finding a local supertall in the construction record books but the accomplishment also offers us some understanding of the technological challenges involved as real estate in Indian cities, strapped for space, increasingly looks to go vertical.  For the island city – it has a population density of about 20,482 persons per square-kilometre, a living space of 4.5 square metres per person, slums covering over 60 per cent of the total land surface– high rise construction seems to be the only option.


That said, there is also an element of the aspirational in the need to build tall structures:  IT bellwether Infosys, for example, has recently announced the construction of the tallest clock tower in the world at its campus in Mysore.  The proposed 135 meter-tall gothic tower has been designed by architect Hafeez Contractor. To be built at a cost of `60 crore the structure will rise to a height of 19 floors and house a boardroom.


Ergo, if Abhishek Lodha, Managing Director, Lodha Group, and India’s No 1 Luxe developer, on being quizzed on the latest construction trends, is quick to quip, “Tall buildings are the way to go,” it should not cause surprise.


Construction firms are now seeing as much logic as opportunity in structures that challenge the skies. With close to 50 per cent of the populace getting into the urban zone the view obtaining now is that in the coming years no building in Mumbai will be less than 50-60 floors.


And who should know the scene from the top better than Rahul Katyal, Managing Director, Capacit’e Infraprojects Ltd, a Mumbai based civil construction company which is executing landmark high rise building projects for clients such as the Lodha Group, Hiranandani, Ramprastha, 3C Cloud 9 and Emaar MGFand has an order book in excess of Rs. 5000 crore. “We are among the very few companies  already into the super high rise segment. Those are demanding projects, a different breed altogether. You need a very high level of engineering capability to be there.”


In Kolkata a consortium of four builders, led by Mani Group, is working to construct a project with a Hafeez Contractor stamp to it. Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, Chief Executive Officer, Mani Group, a real estate firm which is building eastern India’s tallest residential tower,  a 62-story skyscraper called ‘The 42’ in Kolkata says, “Nationally, the goal of transforming cities into more dense, compact and sustainable places is making them consider growing upwards rather than outwards. It is our view there will remain good demand for well planned and well built high rise buildings marketed at the right price.” 


The skyscorchers are coming up across the dust bowl of India in places like New Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, GIFT City-Ahmedabad,  Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Vijaywada . Contractors like Mumbai based Capacit’e Infraprojects, involved in a host of swanky high rise projects for real estate majors are wont to view themselves as high rise construction specialists. The list of tall building developers is big: Hiranandani, Ramprastha, Raheja Developers, Shreepati Group, Ahuja Constructions, Marathon, Kalpataru, Supertech, Assotec, 3C, Parsvanath, Mantri, DLF, Oberoi, the Wave Group…


Many of these real estate projects across the Indian landscape have the stamp of internationally acclaimed architects and designers like Armani/Casa, Trump, Philippe Starck, Jade Jagger, Kelly Hoppen, Greg Norman and Pei Cobb Freed.


With the government’s ambitions to develop smart cities ‘tall’ is perceived as contributing to the tall smart element of new urban agglomerations.   A case in point is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), coming up on the edge of Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar. The site has already seen two of the tallest buildings in the state being constructed in the zone. When completed the financial hub will contain as many as 120 high rise buildings, including international hotel chains, malls, hospitals, entertainment zones and a landmark skyscraper called the Diamond Tower, leaping up from a total built up area of 62 to 90 million sq ft.


High rises are now being perceived as packaging smartness within a small geography. If GIFT City is an example of high rise smart city initiative on a larger scale, the Bhindi Bazaar Redevelopment project, a community based cluster development in South Mumbai, which will see the dilapidated building zone being transformed into a smart Manhattan, represents tall building aspirations on a miniature scale. Both projects offer possibilities of urban transformation and their replication elsewhere.



The new high rises coming up across the country present huge opportunities for EPC firms, , suppliers of building materials, construction equipment manufacturers, suppliers of readymix concrete, steel and other material, electrical and air conditioning products, safety and security gadgets, elevator manufacturers and consultants, infrastructure firms, landscaping experts, project management consultants, facilities management companies, real estate fund managers and sustainability experts. 


Sunil Mantri, Chairman & Managing Director, Mantri Realty, is led to say, “The dramatic change in the skyline across cities calls for a wide array of construction sector related expertise and skills. That coupled with the severe housing shortage and space crunch calls for creating accommodation in vertical structures which require a different set of construction skills. With the growing emphasis on embedding best practices in the built environment there will be a need for skilled workers and professionals.”




Very obviously the big vertical opportunity presented in traditional cities and the new urbania also constitutes a challenge. When it comes to construction of supertalls investing in advanced technology is a major requirement. Very few Indian real estate developers are wont to experiment due to the prohibitive costs. It is true that the country possesses talented structural engineers who have won plaudits for their work in iconic supertall projects abroad like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai but there is still a proclivity among developers and contractors to rely on international designer- architects, structural engineers, and project management experts – when it comes to tall building construction.


The non availability of trained man power, lack of awareness of project management techniques, low use of high performance technology, poor quality of raw material and underdeveloped approach infrastructure, results in inefficiencies creeping into construction of the projects. The general view is that India is still at the learning curve and not enough time goes into the planning and detailing of projects.


Chetan Raikar, Chairman & Managing Director, Structwel Designers & Consultants Pvt Ltd., a critic of the mad rush to build supertall buildings feels there is a dire need to address the technological gap with developed countries. “Building up to 35 floors is currently in our comfort zone but beyond that requires special expertise, proper project planning and management, and most certainly a lot of experience.”



With growing verticalisation of cities across India the demand for construction equipment like tower cranes, aerial work platforms, scissor lifts, boom lifts, hoists, EOT cranes, telescopic handlers and mobile cranes which support the building of tall structures is steadily rising. The Mumbai based Spartan is at the forefront of providing a series of suspended work platforms including passenger and material hoists for high rises with advanced safety features. “Our products support high rise construction demands,” says Dr Vikram Mehta, Managing Director, Spartan Engineering Industries Pvt Ltd. 


With urbanisation becoming an unstoppable trend and space limitations leading to construction of more mid to high-rise buildings the need for vertical transportation will translate to an immense demand for elevators. Vertical transportation specialists like Thyssenkrupp are looking to capitalise on the business opportunities. “Our products include the MRL and With MR Products for the ever growing residential sector from the low, mid to high rise projects. We have special Premium High Speed Elevators that cater to the super high rise projects as well,” says Bharat Vishnani, Managing Director, Thyssenkrupp Elevator (India) Pvt. Ltd.


Tall buildings have other construction concerns. They require a proper design and a special building skin to keep them maintenance free. Though there is provision for basic fire-fighting equipment there is always the risk of fire on the higher floors since government fire-fighting equipment have a small reach. The problem of disrupted power supply places a very high level of dependence on alternate generation of electricity. It is often see that there is a serious lack of preparedness:  Real estate firms have for long rarely factored essentials like work facilities, maintenance, repairs and demolitions, or a disaster management plan at the planning stage itself.  Sandeep Shah, Country Head, Miyamoto International, an earthquake and structural engineering firm, believes all buildings in the National Capital Region are currently only designed for the lowest category of earthquake performance, which is collapse prevention.


Against that background the recent earthquake in Nepal has served as a wakeup call, underlining the need for earthquake safety norms which are sadly not applied or are deficient in high rise buildings above 20 and 30 floors in the NCR classified as a high-damage risk zone.


There is also the headache of having to obtain numerous permissions before the actual construction of supertalls leading to delay in construction and consequent escalation of costs. However in recent months in what is very clearly a bid to expedite stalled development the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Urban Development prescribing simplification of procedures involved in the construction of high-rise buildings. That should give an impetus to tall building construction. 


While the challenges of building next generation tall buildings are understandable–it is obvious those can be surmounted with a combination of policy framework, technical knowhow and project management skills.  “The government’s plan to have greenfield smart cities will provide room for tall buildings of various categories. That to the real estate sector presents great business prospects,” says Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-Founder and MD, Hiranandani Group of Companies.   


Assuredly the future of construction stands tall. 


  • 106 buildings of 200 meters’ height or greater were completed around the world in 2015 setting a new record for annual tall building completions. This beats the previous record high of 99 completions in 2014.
  • The total number of 200-meter-plus buildings in the world is now 1,040, a 392 per cent increase from the year 2000, when only 265 existed.
  • A total of 13 supertalls – buildings of 300 meters or higher – were completed in 2015,the highest annual total on record.
  • Since 2010, the number of supertalls in the world has exactly doubled, from 50 at the end of 2010 to 100 at the end of 2015
  • The tallest building to complete in 2015 was Shanghai Tower at 632 meters, the tallest building in China and the second-tallest in the world.
  • Asia was a major driver of skyscraper completions in 2015, with 81 buildings representing 76 per cent of the 106-building total
  • China had the most 200-meter-plus completions with 62 representing 58 per cent of the global 2015 total. Indonesia had nine completions, the UAE followed closely with seven while Russia came in fourth with five completions and South Korea trailed with three.
Source: The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)


  • Ahuja Constructions
  • Brigade Group
  • Capacit’e Infraprojects
  • Hiranandani Constructions
  • House of Hiranandani
  • Kalpataru
  • Lodha Group
  • Patel Realty
  • Ramprastha
  • Sahana Sheth
  • Sobha Ltd
  • The Wave Group…

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