Designs for a green skyscraper that could remove up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual basis — the equivalent to growing 48,500 trees — was unveiled at the COP26 conference last week.
Named for the world’s tallest trees, the ‘Urban Sequoia’ design is the brainchild of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is based on technologies that are all available for use today.
Each high-rise would employ multiple approaches to sequester carbon, including construction with carbon-absorbing materials, growth of plants and algae (for fuel, energy and food), and direct air capture technology.
The latter would be aided by the tower design’s ‘stack effect’, which would help draw in air to the centre of the building for processing a carbon extraction — while contributing to the building’s net zero energy system.
In fact, the company has claimed, their Urban Sequoia tower design would be capable, assuming a lifespan of at least 60 years, to absorb up to 4 times the carbon released in the atmosphere as a result of its construction.
Captured carbon could be used to produce biomaterials for roads, pavement, pipes and other items for developing urban infrastructure.
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Designs for a green skyscraper that could remove up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual basis — the equivalent to growing 48,500 trees — was unveiled at the COP26 conference last week Pictured: a city of Urban Sequoias
Each high-rise would employ multiple approaches to sequester carbon , including construction with carbon-absorbing materials, growth of plants and algae (for fuel, energy and food), and direct air capture technology — as depicted
‘We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood — feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally, with surplus distributed more widely,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s senior associate principal Mina Hasman. She added: ‘If every city around the world built Urban Sequoias, the built environment could remove up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year’ Pictured: modern-day Laos, left, with the firm’s vision of a greener city, right
CONSTRUCTION’S CARBON FOOTPRINT
According to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, ‘the need to transform the built environment is clear.’
Construction presently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions — a figure that could easily rise in the future without alternative approaches.
In fact, experts have predicted that, come 2060, an extra 230 billion square meters of building stock will be required in the world’s urban centres.
This, the architecture firm, is where Urban Sequoia comes in — allowing the built environment to turn buildings in to solutions, rather than problems, in the growing climate crisis.
‘This is a pathway to a more sustainable future that is accessible today. Imagine a world where a building helps to heal the planet,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner, Kent Jackson.
‘We developed our idea so that it could be applied and adapted to meet the needs of any city in the world, with the potential for positive impact at any building scale.’
‘The power of this idea is how achievable it is,’ agreed Skidmore, Owings & Merrill principal Yasemin Kologlu.
‘Our proposal brings together new design ideas with nature-based solutions, emerging and current carbon absorption technologies and integrates them in ways not done before in the built environment.’
While Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s prototype design is a skyscraper that can sequester up to 1,000 tons of carbon on an annual basis, the carbon capture approaches it uses might be applied to buildings of all types and sizes.
By constructing buildings from materials like bio-brick, biocrete, hempcrete and timber — all of which use less carbon than alternatives, and some of which continue to adsorb carbon over time — it is possible to reduce the carbon impact of construction by 50 per cent as compared to using concrete and steel.
‘A progressive approach could reduce construction emissions by 95 per cent,’ the firm added.
‘We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality,’ elaborated Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Chris Cooper.
‘Our proposal for Urban Sequoia — and ultimately entire “forests” of Sequoias — makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon, changing the course of climate change.’
According to the firm, up to 120 tons of carbon could be sequestered per square kilometre (46 tons per square mile) if urban hardscapes were converted into gardens, cities were re-built as intense carbon-absorbing landscapes and streets were retrofitted with additional carbon-capture technologies.
Furthermore, they suggested, this figure could be nearly tripled if these strategies were also applied in parks and other green spaces.
Named for the world’s tallest trees, the ‘Urban Sequoia’ design is the brainchild of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is based on technologies that are all available for use today. Depicted: an illustration of how the tower’s design would allow it to take it carbon dioxide for storage or usage, while also producing products like biofuel
The tower design’s ‘stack effect’ would help draw in air to the centre of the building for processing a carbon extraction — while contributing to the building’s net zero energy system. Pictured: an artist’s impression of the ‘Urban Sequoia’ concept
‘We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Chris Cooper. ‘Our proposal for Urban Sequoia — and ultimately entire “forests” of Sequoias — makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon’
‘If the Urban Sequoia became the baseline for new buildings, we could realign our industry to become the driving force in the fight against climate change,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s senior associate principal Mina Hasman — a nod to how construction presently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions.
‘We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood — feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally, with surplus distributed more widely,’ Ms Hasman continued.
‘If every city around the world built Urban Sequoias, the built environment could remove up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year.
With immediate focus and investment in SOM’s prototype, we can start this process now and build the first Urban Sequoia,’ she concluded.
The Urban Sequoia concept was presented by Mr Jackson and Ms Hason in COP26’s Blue Zone on Thursday.
While Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s prototype design is a skyscraper that can sequester up to 1,000 tons of carbon on an annual basis, the carbon capture approaches it uses might be applied to buildings of all types and sizes. Pictured: two architectural cross-sections of the high-rise design, showing how each floor integrates air capture and algae systems
By constructing the buildings from materials like bio-brick, biocrete, hempcrete and timber — all of which use less carbon that conventional alternatives, and some of which continue to adsorb carbon over time — it is possible to reduce the carbon impact of construction by 50 per cent as compared to the use of concrete and steel. Pictured: two architectural cross-sections of the high-rise design, showing how each floor integrates air capture and algae systems
RESEARCHERS USE ‘ARTIFICIAL’ TREES CLEAN THE AIR IN CITIES
By keeping mosses in a container, such as those built by CityTrees, the conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure the plant is always thriving and therefore performing at optimum air filtration
CityTrees – also known as artificial trees – use living plants and different types of mosses to capture toxins and remove pollutants from the surrounding environment to produce clean air.
Mosses, despite being a more primitive lifeform than most trees and flowers, conduct photosynthesis.
This allows them to soak up carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere and produce oxygen.
They can also harbour friendly bacteria which further helps trap pollutants.
By keeping mosses in a container, such as those built by CityTrees, the conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure the plant is always thriving and therefore performing at optimum air filtration.
Each self-sustaining CityTree contains a water tank, irrigation systems and sensors to monitor plant growth and ensure they are healthy. The technology is powered by a combination of on-board solar panels and internal batteries.
Each CityTree which has the pollution-reduction benefits of 275 normal trees.
Similar structures have previously been employed in other cities — including Berlin and Hong Kong — along with temporary trials across London.
Plants also help soak up air pollutants directly. Studies have found that the worst offending air pollution for human health is PM2.5 or airborne fine particulate matter.
These particulates are dangerous because they can get deep into your lungs, or even pass into your bloodstream.
Particulates are found in higher concentrations in urban areas, particularly along main roads.
One study from researchers at Beijing Forestry University in 2017 found ‘foliage acts as a bio-filter of air pollution and improves air quality due to the leaves’ rough texture and large contact area’.
But the issue with relying on regular trees and plants to filter the air and remove carbon dioxide and pollutants is that they themselves are highly dependent on the environment.
If they are not thriving due to disease, drought or vandalism, they will fail to clean the air effectively.
Mosses, despite being a more primitive lifeform than most trees and flowers, conduct photosynthesis. This allows them to soak up carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. Plants also directly soak up pollutants
Jeddah Tower: In an attempt to promote development and tourism in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jeddah, a mega-tall skyscraper is now in the processing to become the tallest building on the planet. The creator and sponsor of the project is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest man in the Middle East and a member of the Saudi royal family.
The designing architect of the world’s first 1-kilometer high skyscraper is none other than Adrian Smith, from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Smith was also the designer of the world’s current tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and he is, generally, known for his soaring towers in the US, South Korea, and China.
Courtesy of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
The idea of this architectural marvel in Jeddah was not enthusiastically received all the way long, as some Saudis contemplate the possibility that it would have a negative financial effect on the kingdom. With a budget nearing $2 billion, its opening date was pushed till 2020 due to difficult economic circumstances in the country.
Here are some interesting facts you should know about Jeddah Tower:
1. The aerodynamic triangular shape and the sloping exterior of the tower help in reducing the wind load. Its tri-petal-shaped plan is inspired by the leaves of desert plants.
Courtesy of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
2. The multi-use tower will house the Four Seasons Hotel in addition to serviced residential apartments and office spaces, with transportation routes all around it.
3. Jeddah Tower will have the highest observatory deck and hanging balcony, about 652 meters above the sea level.
Courtesy of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
4. The sleek skyscraper will be the core of Jeddah Economic City project and will be surrounded by houses, schools, universities, malls, and hospitals.
Courtesy of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
5. One rendering will not be realistically able to enclose the whole colossal edifice. Only elevations and birds-eye views can do the job.
6. If you are sitting in a small room right now with a width of 10 feet, have a look around you, this is the diameter of one foundation pile; each pile is 360 feet in length. Concrete in some parts of the core is a few meters thick.
7. It will have 59 elevators. However, due to the extreme height of the tower, which is over one kilometer, elevators are made to move at a speed lower than ordinary lifts to avoid nausea due to the change in air pressure.
Courtesy of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
8. With the sizzling temperature in Jeddah which could reach 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, the exterior wall system of Jeddah tower comprises glass of low conductivity to reduce power use for air-conditioning.
9. Wonderful views of the city and the sea can be seen from the outdoor terraces. The three-sided building has magnificent patios as well as shaded pockets in each of the three sides.
Courtesy of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
10. A structure of such height requires a huge amount of steel for construction which can reach up to 80,000 tons.
The chances that oil prices will again reach $147 a barrel, as it was in 2008, are minimal. And to make it worse for all OPEC and non-OPEC members, the great equaliser that US Shale oil has lately become, has brought about the now familiar boom and bust pattern in the world oil markets. Many experts are predicting this market to be led by the US, which could become by the way no later than this this summer, a net exporter of oil for the first time since 1953. Saudi oil exports related revenues percolating down allowed extravaganzas of such as the Jeddah Tower amongst many other things. Would the world’s tallest tower be in Saudi Arabia?
Here is in the meantime, the story of the main force behind that scheme in the person of Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, who is now after a deal with the government back at managing his business of big projects.
One of them and the most important is the Jeddah Tower, the world’s tallest skyscraper, that is going ahead despite all of the above.
Per Wikipedia the Jeddah Tower, previously known as Kingdom Tower and Mile-High Tower, is a skyscraper under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a preliminary cost of SR4.6 billion. Its Construction started on 1 April 2013 and is scheduled to be Completed by 2019. It has been Costed at a preliminary US$1.23 billion
With a Top floor at 668 m above ground level, it will be the world’s tallest building. Read more at Wikipedia.org.
Here are some excerpts of Reuters’s Reem Shamseddine elaborating on the ubiquitous situation of this supertall structure.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Construction of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Jeddah is going ahead, the head of the consortium behind the $1.5 billion project said, despite the detention of some businessmen backing the plan in Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on corruption.
His comments were a sign that the government is trying to prevent the purge from disrupting major economic development schemes, even as authorities seize billions of dollars of assets from detainees in settlements of allegations against them.
“We have faced delays. In projects of this magnitude you always have delays — I hope we’ll recover the delays we’ve had. We will be open for business by 2020, hopefully,” Mounib Hammoud, chief executive of Jeddah Economic Co (JEC), said in an interview.
JEC is owned by Saudi investors including Kingdom Holding Co, which has a 33 percent stake, and construction giant Saudi Binladin Group, which has 16.6 percent and is the project’s main contractor. Both those companies were affected by the corruption purge.
Kingdom’s owner, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, was detained for nearly three months before being freed in January. He insisted publicly he was innocent of any wrongdoing, but Saudi officials said he agreed to an undisclosed financial settlement after admitting to unspecified “violations”.
. . . .
The Jeddah Tower, featuring residential and hotel space as well as shopping facilities, is projected to be over 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) tall, eclipsing Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which is currently the world’s tallest building at over 828 meters.
A view shows the construction site of Jeddah Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Reem Baeshen
Construction has reached the 63rd floor and the superstructure – the concrete shell and the cladding – is to be completed next year, Jomah said, adding that delays in some areas were inevitable because of technical challenges.
The concrete mix has to be approved by a structural engineering firm in Chicago every month, given the potential impact on it of Jeddah’s changing temperatures and winds, while experts must check almost every week that the tower is 100 percent vertical.
“Between theory and application, what has been designed and what is actually on site – that is quite another world,” Jomah said.
JEC will sign this week a contract with power utility Saudi Electricity Co to build a 134 megawatt substation to serve the project, Hammoud said, adding that his company had begun negotiations with investors to build hotels at the site.
CNN had previously covered the same story and produced this report.
Balfour Beatty, UK’s biggest building firm, decided to sell its operations to a local firm for $13.7 million as reported by GULFNEWS Property at a time when Dubai property investors are advised to not be in any rush to sell their assets right now because they might end up making much less than anticipated. Was Balfour Beatty’s decision to leave the UAE due to the presently moribund state of the country’s construction market? Or is it just another epidermic, overreaction of theirs to an environment of lower earnings combined with an already overbuilt environment that is taking longer than thought to come out of the current trough. Then why Balfour Beatty’s leaving the UAE ? We all know that builders are quick to react to the demands of a market; but is it the same for real estate agents?
Indeed, property market feedback is suggesting that few property sellers as well are affected the same way in the current environment and have had to face similar disappointment. And this is true for both existing properties and those nearing completion, especially those set in such special locations as that of Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lake Towers.
This is for properties that were bought between 2013 and mid-2014, when property sale values were at their peak. Buyers who got in at that time and are now selling might find themselves in such an unprecedented situation that they could have difficulty figure a way out. It seems the same for those who acquired property back in 2007 and 2008.
We must not forget that rents in Dubai surged drastically in 2013 and early 2014, making it unaffordable for several residents. However, governmental measures introduced around a year ago have helped the overall property market stabilise, with prices also remaining steady in the last two quarters.
We have noticed in May 2015, per Cluttons’ latest report at the time, that the average rents across the emirate were down 1.5 per cent compared to the same time a year earlier. Dubai’s property market was seeing an increase in supply. Over 12,600 units were expected to come to the market by the end of 2016 and a further 15,800 completions scheduled between 2017 and 2018.
Property owners are increasingly wary of the threat of longer periods of the lull in property markets across the GCCs, which may trigger a transfer of their operations towards the informal sphere deals, where landlords and tenants agree rents that are not conforming to the Dubai Government’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency recommendations, the report said.
Meanwhile Amna Pervaiz Rao of The Peninsula sees growing competition in Doha, Qatar market to the point where it is causing a slow but steady fall in rents of accommodation as induced by the shrinking oil price related state revenues that are more and more impacting the whole of the country’s economy. These state’s revenues prior to June 2014, had required the construction of new housing complexes for their increasing demand for accommodation of their surging employment, are leading real estate agencies to currently reduce rents by an average of 15 to 20%.
In our previous article on Architecture of Tall Buildings published on April 13, 2015, we elaborated on this segment of the construction of tall buildings industry in the GCC and its evolution. Far from questioning the ‘raison d’etre’ or the real need for such structures, we would like to make here as close to reality a statement of what has been achieved on the ground last year.
Abraj Quartier-Commercial Towers picture (Credit to UDC) is featured above.
Indeed, in 2016, a record of 128 buildings were completed worldwide, according to the the Chicago-based council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)’s Year in Review: Tall Trends of 2016.
It says :
Dubai’s twisting Cayan Tower named among world’s best new skyscrapers
While Africa has yet to see a 200-meter-plus completion since 1973, the Middle East ended the year, for the second time, with nine such completions. This continues a steady trend of completions in the region, but pales in comparison to its all-time high of 23 in 2011, a spike that was attributed to a global post-recession recovery in tall building construction. 2016 was the first year since 2006 that the Middle East has not seen the completion of a supertall (300-plus-meter) building, but one should be wary of assuming that this is indicative of a regional swing away from the supertall height threshold. Optimistic projections show as many as nine supertall buildings completing in the Middle East in 2017.
In an unusual turn, the United Arab Emirates did not have the greatest number of completions in the region for the year. That accomplishment belongs to Qatar, which saw four towers completed in 2016. The UAE followed with just two completions, and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain tied with one completion each. The tallest building to complete in 2016 in the Middle East is Regent Emirates Pearl, a 255-meter tower in Abu Dhabi that twists along its height at a rate of approximately 0.481 degrees per floor. The tower was featured in the online version of the CTBUH Tall Buildings in Numbers study.
Consequent to the reduction in petro-Dollars revenues, a certain slowdown has been noticeable in the region’s construction industry dynamics. Qatar nevertheless led last year the region in building tall towers. The report states that in 2016 that country has managed and for the first time to lead the region by completing four tall buildings.
This report however mentioned that in a decade no “super tall” buildings (300m+) did come to be built anywhere in the region.
Worldwide, China led with 84 projects of tall buildings completed closely followed by the USA follows with seven and South Korea with six. Indonesia is fourth with five buildings and the Philippines and Qatar coming up with four towers each are fifth.
This slowdown in the MENA where last year no ‘super-tall’ towers as per the local media were produced, was commented by the CTBUH as this doesn’t mean the era of tall towers is over for the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi’s Burj Mohammed bin Rashid named best tall building in Middle East and Africa
Speaking to the National, a UAE daily, earlier this month, one financial expert explained this state of affairs.
“Previously, this region hadn’t been quite so sensitive as to whether numbers stacked up. It’s been a case of build it and they will come, but as liquidity tightened the numbers needed to work.”
And that :
“One should be wary of assuming that this is indicative of a regional swing away from the super-tall height threshold. Optimistic projections show as many as nine super-tall buildings completing in the Middle East in 2017.”
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