Building for the future in Asia Pacific’s cities

 —  Article by Riddhi Doshi
sunny taipei city scene Asia Pacific
Image credit: Shutterstock

Cities in Asia Pacific are competing to build stand-out structures as they look to create a stronger ‘brand image’ as well as increase their appeal for diverse groups of investors, tourists and new citizens.

As a result, buildings in the region are pushing the boundaries of design, boasting some of the tallest, smartest and most environmentally friendly structures.

In Shanghai, the 623-metre, 128-storey, Shanghai Tower recently opened. The tallest in the country and the second tallest globally, the building boasts the fastest elevators, the highest hotel and restaurant and the tallest viewing platform in the world. In India, the Badriya Juma Masjid (mosque), in Kundapur, has won the platinum award under the ‘IGBC Green Place of Worship’ award because it is entirely powered by wind and solar energy.

“Developers and architects are keen on constructing landmark structures, competing to be the best across the globe to make a name for themselves. These buildings also enhance the brand image of the city, as in Singapore, Dubai and Shanghai, helping to lure foreign investment and talent,” says Dr Chua Yang Liang, JLL’s Head of Research, South East Asia and Singapore.

Cities with big ambitions

According to JLL’s Business of Cities 2016 report, London, Paris and New York have stronger global brands and reputations than their Asian competitors. However megacities such as Shanghai and Tokyo are starting to rise up the rankings – and their buildings are becoming more ambitious as they do so.

In Tokyo, Mitsubishi Estate is planning Japan’s tallest skyscraper located in the heart of the city’s financial hub.

In Singapore, The Interlace, a large-scale residential development by CapitaLand and Hotel Properties, won the World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in 2015. Also known as a vertical village, its 31 apartment blocks stacked hexagonally to form light large open and permeable courtyard for people to interact.

Over in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers was once the tallest building in the world and has been a tourist magnet since their completion two decade ago.

Iconic architecture has always inspired people, says Piyush Gandhi, National Director, JLL India. “In recent times iconic architecture has become synonymous with tall buildings and all aspirational real estate players want to be part of it.”

Asia-Pacific’s rapidly growing economy has resulted in growing demand for high-rise buildings and more people are aiming to live in the best housing complexes, says Gandhi.

The region is expanding at twice the rate of developed economies. With rising wealth levels and rapid urbanization, often coupled with a shortage of available land, governments and businesses are being pushed to build taller.

Green building increasingly matters

In Asia Pacific, sustainability is becoming as much a consideration for ambitious new buildings as the impact they make on the city skyline.

The Shanghai Tower prides itself on being innovative and green as well as a symbol of luxurious living. Equipped with wind turbines, a rain water harvesting system and a combined cooling and heating system along with 40 other energy-saving measures, it claims to be the world’s greenest skyscraper.

In Melbourne, Australia, plans are underway for the country’s first solar-powered high rise whose glass exterior is wrapped in solar cells will provide its residents with “off-the-grid” power stored in Tesla-like batteries, its designers say.

According to Gandhi, living in a sustainable building has an element of being socially responsible and hence it appeals to many modern buyers. Equally, businesses and governments are using sustainability as a way to attract and retain talent. “In today’s world, sustainability and environment friendliness are high focus areas. The developers too want to give their buyers or tenants that sense of pride in living in a sustainable structure. This is slowly becoming a culture,” he says.

Indeed, as Asian cities rise in prominence on global map, they want buildings that reflect their growing importance in the modern world. As developers push the boundaries of imagination and design, the best structures are not just about being tall and attractive. Increasingly, the aspiration is towards sustainable developments that will bring about a high quality of living.

Read more of this article