David Walters

Super towers

The hero of sustainability

The construction of Grand Canal Land's 615m Super Tower in Rama 9 has just started and it leads me to think about why it is such an obsession for us to build so high.

In some sort of Freudian overture it is almost as if people are in competition to boast the biggest and the best. However there is more to the race to the clouds than meets the eye. No matter what the reason the owners of the world's tallest buildings have for their masterpieces, building up is the way of the future.

It may not be very kind on the skyline but it is the most sustainable and one of our only ways forward.

While the planned construction on Rama 9 may not have the idea of sustainability as its number one priority, pre-designed cities might be just what the world needs in order to move forward and cut carbon emissions. It may seem counterintuitive to think that the suburban and countryside dwellers boast higher carbon footprints than city folk, after all they live in the country, have nice gardens and generally keep their area greener than those in the city, however urban sprawl is a major contributor to pollution and wasted energy.

When living in the city, people are more likely to use public transport or share rides to work. They have less distance to cover to get to work and therefore create fewer pollutants on the way. Water and electricity don't have as far to travel and your quick nip to the local supermarket is just walking distance away.

In a city, land can be used more efficiently, but this doesn't necessarily mean it is, as urban sprawl comes through organic growth which is never as efficient as pre-planned zoning. Cities are now being designed and built specifically for sustainability. Thailand has many projects (but probably still not enough) aimed at the poor, tackling sustainability issues.

Not everyone can afford to live in the city and most of any city's workforce will live in the suburbs. The problem is worsened by property developers who buy up the cheaper city housing, build extensions and make them unaffordable to the average person. We are a long way from living in the clouds but steps are being made towards this new future.

Buildings such as the planned Food City in Dubai are leading the way. While in their infancy these projects will certainly be out of the average person's price range but could we all be living in this style of building in the next 50 years?

It is hard to say just how high we can go, and while ego might be the motivation behind some of these buildings, they are a necessary step to a more sustainable future. And whether you like them or not, it does give these guys something to do on the weekend.

David Walters

Head of British Early Years Centre



Large tall buildings are nice to visit and play in. Eating and shopping count as 'playing', right? I hope, though, that I never have to live or work full time in one. They are noisy , sterile and inhuman! Every time I walk into these commercial factories of abundance I feel trapped and claustrophobic.

By Mark Newman, Thailand (20th December 2014)

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