Beyond a strictly utilitarian interpretation, a high-rise is more than just a giant mass of space where people live and/or work. The building itself has identity and character and is a showcase of artistic yet sustainable design expressed through the combination of structural integrity and spatial expression. It is precisely this culmination of influence, vision, and construction that the jury of the International Highrise Award will discuss when choosing from the finalists for their 2018 award.
Since the inception of the prize in 2003 as a joint endeavour of the City of Frankfurt, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale, this highly sought after international award celebrating architectural design has been given to a total of 7 noteworthy structures that “combine exemplary sustainability, external shape and internal spatial quality, not to mention social aspects, to create a model design.” Aside from the EUR 50 000 prize, the statuette designed by Thomas Demand, and the notoriety of the award itself, winning represents a certain degree of vindication and validation from industry peers, as the deciding jury consists of architects, structural engineers, real-estate experts, and architecture critics.
Though, technically, the award is open to all buildings completed in the previous 2 years (i.e. since the last award was given) and which are at least 100 meters in height, the stringent criteria used to whittle-down potential nominees – such as (but not limited to) urban integration, sustainability, functionality, cost-effectiveness, and innovative building technology – has shortened the list of nominees to 36, representing 15 countries. The five finalists are:
- MahaNakhon, Bangkok, Thailand, by Buro Ole Scheeren, Bangkok/Thailand und OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Peking/China
- Beirut Terraces, Beirut, Lebanon, by Herzog & de Meuron, Basel/Switzerland
- Torre Reforma, Mexico City, Mexico, by L. Benjamín Romano, Mexico City/Mexico
- Chaoyang Park Plaza, Beijing, China, by MAD Architects, Beijing/China
- Oasia Hotel Downtown, Singapore, by WOHA, Singapore
Seeing the photos and reading the descriptions of the 5 finalists (which is highly recommended and can be done here), it can easily be agreed that each finalist is deserving the award; however, before delving too deeply into the individual dynamics of each building, it’s important to remember that each of these skyscrapers, which seek to push the envelope of what is possible in architecture, is the synergistic product of multiple varied entities. Each construction project requires a cooperative confluence of planners, architects, civil administrators, investors, site managers, materials suppliers, workers, etc.
Nowadays high-rise construction has become a globalised industry and long gone are the days when every project could be completed using the financing, building material, labour, and technical know-how of a single specific country or area. Modern construction projects typically include financing from a myriad of sources, multiple material suppliers, a retinue of managers, and (often) a combination of architects. In fact, some of the IHA finalists are key examples of this, like the mixed-use ManaNakhon skyscraper in Bangkok, which has a local architectural firm working with a Chinese firm, as well as the residential Beirut Terraces, which, though being in Lebanon, utilizes the Basel, Switzerland-based firm, Herzog & de Meuron.
With planning aspects involving meeting civil ordinances, timely receipt of materials, environmental regulations, and meeting overall deadlines, open and thoroughly understood communication is vital. Conversely, with so much of this process being globalised, the potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding, which can push back regulatory approval, delay supply shipments, or increase construction times (all of which serve to increase overall construction costs), is greatly increased. Naturally, the best way to diminish potential issues like these is to make sure that all parties understand one another, and the best way to do this is to employ the services of a reputable Language Services Provider. From assisting on issues of blueprint and architecture translations to civil ordinance and health and safety regulation implementation to basic supply and worker communication, partnering with a translation company can save all parties a lot of time, money, and stress.
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