Early sustainable architecture in hanging skyscrapers – A comparison of two financial office buildings
Keywords:hanging buildings, sustainable design, adaptability
Reuse, or the ability to continue using an item or building beyond the initial function, is a key concept in the literature on sustainability. This implies that a building should be designed in a way that will allow it to be repurposed when changing circumstances require changes in its layout or function; being energy efficient and environmentally sensitive is not enough. The building also needs to be financially viable and the people whose lives are impacted by it should wish to have it retained. As far as flexibility of high-rise or skyscraper buildings is concerned, the structural system and layout are some, but not the only aspects that are of particular importance in this regard. Upside-down or ‘hanging’ buildings, because of the reduced use of columns, can potentially provide advantages when viewed from such a widened understanding of sustainability. Two such buildings are the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC) headquarters building in Hong Kong and the Standard Bank Centre (SBC) in Johannes-burg. The SBC stands virtually unused and in disrepair, while the HSBC remains fully operational and revered by the population of Hong Kong. This article compares the design and construction processes of the two buildings to determine why these two buildings ended up in such divergent situations. The aim is to make recommendations regarding structural systems and other factors that could assist in ensuring that future skyscrapers will be more sustainable, in addition to being energy and resource conserving. Furthermore, this comparison sheds some light on the historical development of the understanding of sustainability and the difference between green design and sustainable design.
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