Extending the Walkable Urban Journey to the Sky

Alan Cronin
Divisional Director Vertical Transportation
Hilson Moran Partnership, London

The optimum recipe for successful master planning has long been a subject of discussion and experimentation. While experts diverge at various tangents on this complex and organic subject matter, as is evident from the collection of essays published in "Rethinking Master planning: Creating Quality Places" last year, a handful of ingredients are common to many.

In master planning, design teams create "active frontages" that focus on encouraging transportation by foot by analyzing the content of daily errands (e.g. medical appointments, grocery stores, fitness centers), and purposefully ensuring these are within comfortable walking distance of crucial amenities like parks and transportation nodes.The most successful master plans of recent times offer mixed-used, fine-grain, human-scale, high-density diversity along a planned or alluring human footfall. The focus is on the effect that vertical mixed-use, fine-grain activity nodes and paths could have on tall buildings, particularly on vertical transportation, security and fire safety. What are the challenges this new brief presents designers with and what are the new opportunities for landlords, occupants and visitors?

Does the added value outweigh the constraints? From this new brief, there is likely to be flexibility extended from the typical floor-by-floor tenant split and core arrangements to the vertical plane: soft spots, dedicated lifts, open staircases and adaptable building services for undefined spatial uses. This presentation explores how these challenges can be accommodated by looking at how vertical communities can enhance our experience of buildings, our health, well-being, and make a positive contribution to the urban habitat.