Skyscrapers in Ukraine: what do we need for high-rise construction?



The less available land a city has, the more expensive it is, and the higher buildings built on it. This is an axiom for megacities. Kyiv has not become a city of skyscrapers yet, but it is no exception – high-rise buildings and projects that may become so appear in the city with increasing frequency.

Should we expect the boom of such buildings? What are the specifics of such a construction and does Ukraine have appropriate rules for their construction? We discussed the realities and prospects of high-rise construction with the BRDO’s Construction sector head Olena Shulyak.

Height of buildings and Ukraine

Ukraine takes the 51st position (out of 174 countries) in terms of the total number of high-rise buildings and the 49th position in the list of 59 countries, which have more than 150 meter buildings.

In 2017, there were 144 skyscrapers of more than 200 meters high built globally. This is the largest-ever number of super-high buildings that were put into operation for the year. The average height of such facilities increased by 6 meters and reached 244 meters.

“In Ukraine, the average height of “skyscrapers” is 132.6 meters. The only project that has the chance to exceed this figure is a building of the multifunctional Sky Towers complex in Kyiv. Taking into account its spire, the highest point of the complex can be 220 meters high when the construction is finished,” Olena Shulyak said.

The Sky Towers Complex design project, which is being built in Kyiv

Such kind of “skyscrapers” are a real high-tech architectural and engineering miracle. Experts say that its design and construction requires ensuring a number of conditions such as a highly skilled engineering resource, modern design and construction technologies, access to modern high-quality construction materials and financial opportunities.

However, in Ukraine, for example, the highest tower crane used in construction reaches 200 meters in high. It is located in Zaporizhya and used for the construction of bridges. But the construction of the construction of bridges requires having a special equipment, which operates on a different basis.

Complicated life of skyscrapers

In addition, it is important not only to build, but also maintain a “skyscraper”.

Olena Shulyak says that the maintenance of a skyscraper is significantly more expensive than any other usual “high-rise”. The key factors of rising costs are the supply of water to the upper floors and the cost of servicing high-speed elevators.

“In the 632-meter Shanghai Tower skyscraper, elevator cabs move at a speed of almost 74 kilometers per hour, which is 20.5 meters per second. It is clear that servicing such a mechanism doesn’t come cheap. And this is one of the reasons why we do not have such buildings,” the BRDO expert said.

However, this is not the main point. The BRDO office is convinced that Ukraine has a chronic problem – the outdated, and in most cases, not available system of construction rules and standards for high-rise construction.

“We have technical rules and standards of the midst of the last century. They allow to build buildings no higher than 100 meters, and it is 25-30 floors. That is why, the buildings that exceed this mark have the status of pilot projects. And Sky Towers is one of them,” Olena Shulyak comments and adds that the current legislation doesn’t regulate even this experimental construction, and this is a significant gap in the regulatory policy.

“Our high-rise somewhat leaned”

There are different experiences with high-rise construction “pilot schemes”. Take a classical example. In the Brazilian city of Santos, which is not far from Sao Paulo, there is a city block with crooked multistory buildings located along the coastline.

Crooked high-rise buildings in Brazilian Santos

Until 1968, local construction rules did not provide for any special conditions for the type of foundation that could be used for multistory buildings. In theory, the building foundation should reach the grounds, which lies at a depth of about 50 meters in this region.  However, these buildings on the waterfront have been built before these standards were amended, and their foundation is only 4-5 meters. After the first building leaned, it became clear that they should stop placing high-rise buildings on a small foundation, and the requirement to have a deep foundation for high-rise buildings was added to construction standards. Today, in Santos, there are about 90 buildings, which have already “deviated” from the vertical at a distance of 0.5-1.8 meters. In spite of this fact, people still live in their apartments, although they are dealing with everyday difficulties: furniture shifts, the impossibility to fill up a cup of coffee and so on.

 People living in these Brazilian high-rise buildings can not even fill up a cup of coffee easily

The issue of high-rise construction is also closely related to the infrastructure problems of cities. After all, it is necessary to clearly understand logistics and engineering elements to maintenance “superbuildings”.

“Providing the skyscraper’s operation is another problematic issue, for which Ukraine has still no answer. After all, putting such a building into operation implies both the imbalance in networks, the logistics load and the issue of parking lots. For example, according to the Sky Towers project, which is being built almost in the very heart of Kyiv, about 17,000 people can work in the office building at the same time. And the project itself provides only 850 parking lots. Imagine how much time people will spend on finding a parking space?” Olena Shulyak emphasized.

According to UN forecasts, in 2050, 66% of the world’s population will live in cities. Today, this figure exceeds 54%. The population of cities increases by 68 million annually. That is, the urbanization will be at least 180,000 people a day in the next few decades. That is why, the process of “increasing cities up” due to high-rise buildings is an inevitable fact. This is the reality of the near future. And it is very important to be prepared for this.

Olena Shulyak believes that a difficult but important way lies ahead. We need to develop and implement high-rise construction rules urgently, analyze the possibilities of building skyscrapers in Ukrainian cities and create the preconditions for avoiding infrastructure collapses. The BRDO is ready to provide expert-analytical support for this process, because we may keep our eyes closed, but the problem won’t go away.

By Yanina Tkachuk