High impact, small footprint residential buildings are still in demand

High impact, small footprint residential buildings are still in demand

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The Rookery Building, Chicago, IL
The Rookery Building, Chicago, IL

PHILIPPINES, July 28, 2014 – People have long been fascinated by impressive architectural structures that reach skyward to the sun.

In 1887 construction was begun on the first true skyscraper.  The architectural firm of Burnham and Root was among the Chicago School of Commercial Architecture that worked to be the first to successfully build an office building to reach new heights, featuring luxury items such as a glass atrium ceilingm elevators, fireproofing and plate glass windows.

The building combined iron framing and masonry bearing walls over a “grillage foundation” that Root designed that had the building built upon a reinforced concrete slab that encased structural beams combined in a criss cross pattern providing a firm load bearing based for building on Chicago’s swampy soil

Since that first steel and block high rise, named the Rookery for the many pigeons and birds that would adorn the ornamentation on the Richardsonian Romanesque facade, high rise buildings, and skyscrapers began to grow in cities with the honor of having the highest structure an unending battle of one up-man-ship between cities around the world.

Today the trend of vertical living continues that climb to the heavens, but also provides the greatest number of living spaces over the smallest possible footprint. In the 80’s the advent of condominiums made apartment living more acceptable to the rich that demanded the ability to own, and change, their environment.

Photo courtesy of Vgm8383 via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Vgm8383 via Flickr

In  A Short History of High Rise an interactive documentary prepared by the New York Times, the journey from the Tower of Babel to the luxury skyscrapers that define our cities skylines is explored.

While the first commercial high rise is in Chicago, it was the Romans who were the first to build apartments thousands of years ago.

Other countries also had their own versions of apartments, Arizona cliff dwellings, mud houses, circular temples in China, among others.

Hundreds of years later, with the invention of the elevator and emergence of the Industrial Revolution, people from the rural areas sought employment in the cities creating a shortage of available, and affordable housing.

To address the issue on housing problems, various reforms were implemented which propelled the trend of high rise buildings and sophisticated urbanites.

Major cities like New York City gave birth to the need for more high rise buildings, more rooms, more space, more people to accommodate.

Then in the late 1800s, New York gave a different take on high rise making it a luxury for the wealthy and famous.

Most of the architects during that time built buildings of 12 stories high since the trend were to make vertical planned communities. As cities continued to grow, residential high-rise buildings continued to form vertical living communities often boasting a small city – restaurant, gym, pharmacy and dry cleaner – in its lobby.

One only need to walk down Park Avenue to see how these high-rise buildings became a status symbol that offered not only a new trend in sophisticated living but also a physical way to segregate the wealthy from the “riff-raff” and noise on the streets below.

Today expanding horizontally is no longer reasonable as younger people want to live near transportation hubs and within an arms reach to restaurants, theaters and life style enhancements. Vertical living enables communities to grow while maximizing the limited space available.

Living in mixed use high-rise communities, things are easier to reach. For many not having a small space allows easier cleaning as well.

In towns like DC and New York, young workers are opting for “micro-apartments” not much bigger than a large hotel room, these living spaces boast easy accessibility and maintenance for young singles more interested in being out on the town than living solo at home.

More developers are interested in building micro-units for D.C.'s millennial population. (Courtesy Perkins Eastman-DC)
More developers are interested in building micro-units for D.C.’s millennial population. (Courtesy Perkins Eastman-DC)

What makes a micro-unit varies from building to building, however Mark Wellborn, co-founder of UrbanTurf, says the term generally applies to an apartment between 250 square feet and 375 square feet.

“Lots of people five years ago called those studio apartments, but the term ‘micro-unit’ has gotten really popular in the last three years,” Wellborn says. “Buzz is the operative word.”

Back in the day, these types of units were called studio apartments and often sported a Murphy bed that dropped from the wall. Today, space designers create moving walls, fold down bunk beds and tables that seat small dinner parties that materialize out of cabinets.

President Benigno T. Cabrieto Jr. of the National Real Estate Association Inc. (NREA), in an interview with the Business Mirror, explained that the “vertical” residential projects are increasing in Philippine cities because the demand by the locals and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for condos are increasing as well. The real estate industry has long been transformed. People prefer to live in aerial properties than land properties.

Urban intensification does not immediately equate to better public transit, proximity to jobs, but may mean more smog, increased crime rates, and urban jungle which we cannot control. Will this be the case years from now?

Photo courtesy of Environment Blog via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Environment Blog via Flickr

With the increase of housing prices, condominiums are becoming a best option for families or even young entrepreneurs. Considering the amenities and the benefits of having a condominium and its property sales value, city condominium living is considered a convenient, and attractive, housing option .

As the population continues to grow, millions and millions of people will be looking for a place to live in.

Considering the living conditions and the state of the economy, it is certain that condominiums and skyscraper living will continue to rise. Innovations such as green architectural buildings will continue to thrive in each community to create a society rooted in environmentalism. I

n Canada, developer Windmill Development Group (WDG) has revealed the condo of the future focused on sustainability clothed with modern design and technological advancement.

Buildings will continue to be demolished and then built again just like the renewal that has happened in the early 1900s.

“Intensification does not have to come at the expense of the community. We are proving that we can work with the community design plans, while providing the most effective green technologies and visually appealing designs,” explained Rodney Wilts, Development manager of WDG.

People will always come up with new ideas for condominiums such as underground parking spaces, rooftop parks, geothermal heating systems, solar paneled windows, among others. This proliferation of high rise buildings or condominiums will increase because it makes more and more people live closer to their workplace and shopping centers.

One thing is for sure, as people seek to live in city centers, and single family housing is priced out of reach, vertical living will never cease to exist.

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