People living in rural areas transition to urban centres in search of better job opportunities, health services, educational institutes, lifestyle choices, and growth options (Pateman, 2011). However, amid rising population growth and rural to urban migrations, it is becoming increasingly difficult for cities to provide affordable housing, water sanitation, transport, and urban infrastructure services to all their residents. Therefore, to meet the needs of a rising population, the only viable solution is for cities to grow vertically. Vertical development refers to the idea of constructing high-rise buildings that can accommodate a greater number of residential or commercial units compared to just horizontal construction on the same area of land (Wong, 2004). In addition, emerging technologies like modular construction and 3D printing also allow for vertical construction at a far greater pace with significantly lesser costs and greater security and sustainability (Bertram et. al., 2019). Continue reading to understand how vertical development can be an essential step towards the sustainable development of cities.
Need for Vertical Development
The demand for housing and infrastructure has grown exponentially over the last decade. With land becoming a more scarce resource than ever, people looking for affordable housing are left with the option of either living in informal settlements, such as slums, or areas far away from the city centre, mostly on encroached agricultural lands (WEF, 2019). This presents a massive challenge for cities as they are under constant pressure to ensure environmental sustainability and the provision of urban infrastructure to all. High-rise buildings, or vertical development, is the most practical solution for cities facing a shortage of land. Rising populations, shrinking spaces, and a desire to remain close to city centres have increased the utilisation of multi-story buildings (Ibrahim, 2007). The world is filled with examples of such high-rises, showing that Pakistan can also adopt the practice to make its cities more sustainable. Although the concept has an adequate level of adoption in Karachi, cities like Lahore and Islamabad are also catching up on the idea. Many development projects based on multi-story high-rises have been established over the recent years. The Imarat Group has recently launched Golf Floras, a project considered among the world’s top 20 most luxury residential apartments.
Horizontal construction limits a plot of land to just one or a few units of consumption, either residential or commercial. This means that only a single-family, having an average of 6 people in Pakistan, can utilise that space, whereas in a vertical building there can be many units that can easily accommodate a large number of families. It is often argued that providing excess housing units can depreciate the value of real estate. However, high demand for housing remains even if cities are allowed to grow vertically. The chance of apartments lying vacant is also slim as most often, the apartments situated on higher floors have a premium on their prices (AN, 2021). The situation is not much different for the commercial sector since businesses need premises for their employees and operations. Tall high rises are among the most effective solutions for such organisations. Instead of spreading their official footprint over a wide area, working within a single building can help greater integration between departments and reduce costs significantly over time (Yaskova, 2017).
Preconditions for Vertical Development of Cities
Vertical development of cities requires planning and developing new local regulations and bylaws to allow for high rises in residential and commercial areas providing an organised framework for growth. This poses a challenge for local government bodies as not everyone is willing to sell off their independent home or shop in place of shared accommodation. There are also multiple stakeholders involved in the planning and development process. Taking on board all such groups can also be a precondition for successfully implementing policies that favour vertical development. There are also considerations regarding the structural integrity of the surrounding land and the building itself. Safety of the residents is a crucial consideration, and a competent authority is required to carry out checks and balances for regulation of building standards and following bylaws. For example, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has recently allowed for the construction of high-rises on ten marlas of land, leading to a boom in the construction sector. Previously, this could not be done on properties less than four kanals. Similarly, architectural challenges also arise when it comes to the construction of high-rises. These buildings have to be safe from environmental and local hazards such as fires, earthquakes, cyclones, and floods. Vertical development of cities also increases the demand for energy significantly. Lastly, environmentally friendly policies are also required to ensure the availability of green spaces in a world growing in concrete consumption (Akristiniy, 2017).
How can Vertical Development Support Sustainable Growth of Cities?
Sustainability principles revolve around multiple aspects of urban development, which ensure that cities remain habitable, equitable, and environment friendly for the generations to come. Although high rise concrete structures are associated with their own sustainability challenges, such as rising urban heat and excessive use of earth’s resources, modern technologies like 3D printing and modular construction provide for a sustainable solution to the problem. A variety of materials can be used for the construction of high-rises, while prefabricated sections built off-site can significantly impact the time, effort, and use of resources in the process of vertical development. Developing countries have an advantage as they can learn from developed cities. They can also adapt to sustainable practices in their earlier stages to achieve a more robust urban infrastructure, adopt environmentally friendly structures, and improve challenges of transport, health, and education early on. High-rises can also be fitted with wind turbines and solar power systems to generate renewable energy. As a large number of people can be accommodated in high-rises, more people can live closer to city centres, drastically reducing the time needed for travel, and subsequently, motor vehicles. Vertical development of cities can also give a boost to the construction and real estate sector by allowing a larger number of people to invest in the same plot of land. Lastly, vertical development of cities also allows for greater integration of communities and availability of all basic amenities under the same building, such as gyms, cafes, libraries, and shops.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for cities to manage the challenges of urbanisation, such as the provision of affordable housing, water sanitation, transport services, healthcare facilities, and municipal services. Vertical development refers to the idea of construction of high rises that can accommodate a far greater number of units on the same area of land. Emerging technologies like 3D printing and modular construction allow for sustainable practices in the development of high-rises in multiple cities around the world. Therefore, to fulfil the demand for housing while limiting horizontal growth into agricultural lands, vertical development of cities is required for a sustainable future.
Akristiniy, V. A. (2017). Vertical cities – the new form of high-rise construction evolution.
AN (2021). Why Are Top Floor Apartments More Expensive? (8 Reasons). Retrieved from Apartment Notes: https://apartmentnotes.com/why-are-top-floor-apartments-more-expensive/
Bertram, N., Fuchs, S., Mischke, J., & Palter, R. (2019). Modular Construction: From Projects to Products. McKinsey&Company.
Ibrahim, E. (2007). High Rise Buildings – Needs and Impacts.
Pateman, T. (2011). Rural and urban areas: comparing lives using rural/urban classifications. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/rt.2011.2
WEF. (2019). Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities. World Economic Forum.
Wong, K. M. (2004). Vertical cities as a solution for land scarcity: the tallest public housing development in Singapore. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/palgrave.udi.9000108
Yaskova, N. (2017). Strategic advantages of high-rise construction. Retrieved from: https://www.e3s-conferences.org/articles/e3sconf/pdf/2018/08/e3sconf_hrc2018_03025.pdf
What is vertical development, and why is there a need for it?
What are the requirements of developing vertical cities?
How can vertical development support the sustainable growth of cities?
It is becoming increasingly difficult for cities to provide affordable housing, water sanitation, transport, and urban infrastructure services to all their residents.
Vertical development refers to the idea of constructing high-rises that can accommodate a far greater number of residential or commercial units compared to horizontal construction on the same area of land.
Emerging technologies like modular construction and 3D printing allow for vertical construction at a far greater pace with significantly lesser costs and greater security and sustainability.
High-rise buildings, or vertical development, is the most practical solution for cities facing a shortage of land.
The world is filled with examples of such high-rises, showing that Pakistan can also adopt the practice to make its cities more sustainable.