Extending the Urban Journey to the Sky

Alan Cronin
Divisional Director Vertical Transportation
Hilson Moran Partnership, London

The optimum recipe for successful masterplanning 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 Masterplanning: Creating Quality Places" (ed. H. AlWaer, B. Illsley) last year, a handful of ingredients are common to many.
In masterplanning, we create ‘active frontages’ - ones that encourage people to walk, where people undertake day to day errands, buy food, make less frequent visits to gift shops, dry cleaners, doctor/physio/dentist; other attractions such as parks, health/fitness facilities, creative workshops, teaching kitchens, pop up events and, importantly, transport nodes, are within comfortably walkable distance. The most successful masterplans 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 is likely to be one of 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. The presentation will explore how these challenges can be accommodated and new opportunities from changing briefs, perceptions, new technologies and case studies.
It will look at how vertical communities can enhance our experience of buildings, our health, wellbeing and make a positive contribution to the urban habitat.