Architecture of the future: vertical living

Leading architect Bjarke Ingels once described his industry as “the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings fit with the way we want to live our lives”.

But while his adage may largely speak to the truth, factors beyond our control often determine the types of buildings we construct.

Architecture of the future: vertical living

That’s where 'vertical living' comes into play, a modern architectural trend striving to reconcile two elements of metropolitan living: to create buildings that align with the way we want to spend our days while also submitting to the tough demands of a modern lifestyle.

Here, we take a close look at the vertical city and what it means for our urban spaces.

The what

Vertical living is an innovative vision for the future of our metropolises. At its core it implies building upwards rather than outwards, with an emphasis on embedding social areas such as shops, restaurants and even gardens into residential skyscrapers.

The difference between the notion and traditional apartment blocks also lies in 'nonlinear' design, allowing each storey to take a form of its own.

German architect Ole Scheeren is at the forefront of the push for incorporating vertical living into our metropolitan areas. The designer’s ‘vertical village’ project in Singapore won the World Architecture Festival Building of the Year Award in 2015, thus outlining a blueprint for similar projects in years to come.

The why

The architectural trend is a practical response to three major concerns in urban property planning: increasing populations, rising house prices and growing environmental pressures.

It's no accident that pioneering vertical living projects are cropping up in some of the planet’s most densely populated cities. Cities are becoming overcrowded and there's an acute need for space. Vertical living is seen as a favourable solution versus continually extending the urban sprawl.

The spiking demand for housing has also put major pressure on the property market in major cities. The aim of vertical city projects is to provide an affordable way for people to live in the heart of the city.

Nature is also under threat due to our need for additional housing. The further cities encroach upon our countryside, the less room we have for rearing animals and crops – and for enjoying the pleasures that come with spending time outdoors. Vertical living makes efficient use of land already in use.

The how

The vertical city is about more than just building upwards. Architects are working to ensure it’s an attractive proposition, in both residential and commercial markets.

Ole Scheeren’s first project outside Asia is a fine example of the vertical city’s possibilities. The Vancouver venture sees individually designed, asymmetrically stacked residential 'boxes'. The result is not only aesthetically pleasing, it offers residents a unique option that’s not currently available in traditional skyscrapers. The irregular design also mirrors the Bjarke Ingels Group’s plans for the Two World Trade Center in New York, offering bespoke work units for commercial tenants.

In the coming years we can expect a wealth of intelligent new design for the vertical city, resulting in less crowded, more affordable and greener metropolitan spaces around the world.

As leaders in the luxury property market, Engel & Völkers keeps a keen eye on contemporary architecture trends. Browse our website for additional insight into the links between urban design and the real-estate industry.

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