CTBUH Journal 2021 Issue IV Available Now

1 December 2021


A special conference edition expands on the themes of the CTBUH 2021 International Conference, including carbon reduction, adapting to climate change, and addressing societal crises.


The special conference edition of the CTBUH Journal 2021, Issue IV, is available for download in your member account. Go to my.ctbuh.org and look for “My Downloads” in the left-hand menu.


This quarter’s special issue, sponsored by Schindler, coincided with the CTBUH 2021 International Conference, tracking along the theme of “The Future City: Addressing Carbon, Climate, and Societal Crises.” The issue covers whether we will see a megacity pick up from the coast and move inland away from rising seas, using plastic bottles as a direct construction material, designing well-being into hybrid work, and the tension between densification and social distancing, among other salient topics.



Inside this issue

The issue contains numerous key items that relate to the “crises” theme. The Debating Tall feature considers the effect of the climate on our overwhelmingly coastal megacities. The possibility that we might need to build new cities within bands of acceptable climate risk is considered with the question, “Will We Move a Megacity?”


The special report, Overcoming Carbon, Climate, and Societal Challenges in Cities, encompasses both the struggles and victories that cities, and the building industry, have weathered recently and will encounter in the near future. Though many daunting incidents and phenomena are catalogued here, we trust that the overall message of inspiration resounds.


For a data-driven, graphical story of resilience, we present Tall Buildings in Numbers: The Global Impact of 9/11 on Tall Buildings, which highlights key details of a recent CTBUH study, which draws a stark refutation of the original negative pronouncements about the viability of skyscrapers, 20 years after the tragic events of 11 September 2001.


It is time that we stop understanding vertical development in terms of
autonomous single-program buildings, and instead approach it as the holistic
extension of multiple urban systems along the vertical axis.
- Piber

Related to both the energy-climate-carbon nexus and safety concerns, in Talking Tall we hear from two executives from Schindler on the impact touchless technology, in a contagion-sensitive world, will have on the way we move through buildings, as well as on people flow and efficient energy use.


We approach the questions dotting the path to realizing the future city at several different scales. At the largest scale, the research paper Megacities vs. Urban Sprawl; Densifying vs. Social Distancing, examines the contemporary urban paradox—while mass urbanization of the planet would seem to demand densification, our experience with the pandemic seems to encourage the opposite. How can we resolve these issues from a spatial and policy standpoint?


As minimization of carbon footprint is integral to the survival of our planet and the particular burden of the built environment, the research paper Reducing the Carbon Emissions of High-Rise Structures from the Very Beginning details the impressive embodied emissions reductions that can occur with optimization choices in materials taken early in the design phase.


Likewise, Reimagining Plastics in the Built Environment: Ecobricks at the Ridge, Cape Town, also interrogates material choices, but from the angle of direct incorporation of the ubiquitous everyday waste product—the plastic bottle—into finished construction. This lightweight, low-tech approach could divert significant amounts of waste from our oceans and landfills.


Of course, some persistent questions remain with us as we pass, if not completely out of, then into a later phase of the pandemic. One of the most pressing is, “How will the future workplace change?” Both the research paper Designing Holistic Well-Being in the Age of Hybrid Working and the Ask a CTBUH Expert piece, “What Does the Tech Industry Want in a High-Rise?” address those concerns from different, but related angles.


The challenges we face are indeed daunting, as seen in the limited progress emerging from the UN’s just-concluded COP 26 Climate Change Conference. But as many practitioners have said: This moment should be viewed as a unique opportunity for real action to take place, as all of the good practices we have developed now take their place with a higher level of visibility than ever before. Let’s seize the opportunity.




CTBUH Member? Access your free digital version of the CTBUH Journal.