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Humanizing vertical mobility

The theme of the CTBUH (Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) 2023 conference is "Humanizing High Density", and we talked with Robert Boog, Head of Global Large Projects, about what this means for vertical mobility and the future of cities.

Robert has worked on prestigious vertical and horizontal transportation projects for the past two decades. He has played a key role in developing our large projects business as a global force with local impact. By building connections and knowledge about urban development intellectually and practically, he and his team have cemented Schindler’s credentials as a leading global provider of sustainable solutions for complex large projects.

With headquarters in Ebikon and Shanghai, and experts around the world, the Global Large Projects’ mission is to enhance the quality of life in urban environments by providing the best mobility solutions across projects – from skyscrapers to transportation hubs, and everything in between. We achieve that by becoming the preferred partner for our customers from the early planning stage over the complete project life cycle.

What sets aside high-rise building from other building types?

When you look at the skyline of any city around the world, it’s the high-rise buildings that stand out. It sounds an obvious thing to say but a skyscraper can be very high – sometimes we take it for granted quite how tall they are. This vertical volume means a single high-rise has a huge impact in the city. They also tend to be iconic – eye-catching and simply impressive.

High-rises influence urban development a great deal. Mixed-use buildings, for instance, can turn a monofunctional street into a vertical city packed into a single building. Stacked mixed-use means offices, restaurants, shopping centers, and apartments all share the same footprint.

All this means a higher volume of foot traffic. People want to move quickly and freely throughout buildings, and because of their size and many uses, high-rises become a central point where vertical and horizontal transport – human movement – meet. People enter a building from the street, the parking area, or public transport and then move around within the building.

High-rises are demanding and exciting places for vertical transport - big buildings have a big impact.

This means having mobility solutions that are efficient is essential.

With a high-performance single- or double-deck elevator, like the Schindler 7000, passengers can travel from ground level to a floor hundreds of meters above in under a minute. Leading transit management systems, like Schindler PORT, make it easy to manage security, personalization, and find the shortest time for every vertical transport trip.

High-rises are demanding and exciting places for vertical transport – they provide challenges of understanding where the building is in the city, its function(s), the human factor… because of their scale, all of this is more intense than in any other building type. Big buildings have a big impact.

What does "Humanizing High Density" mean in terms of mobility solutions?

People often talk about density as a static thing – a fixed number of people in a fixed area. But people are constantly moving around in cities, they don’t stay still for long.

We like to think of it in terms of ‘human density’ – we do this by looking at the number of people in a specific place at a specific time. On their own, these snapshots are valuable, but collected together, they become incredibly powerful in understanding how people move around and interact with a city.

These patterns show us where people are, when they are there – and more interestingly, why they are there. Work, recreation, life needs – all of these make people move around. Individual buildings have their own movement patterns within them, as depending on their function, the volume and flow of people can change dramatically.

Of course, architecture plays a role in this, but really, it’s people driven.

Talking about "Humanizing", how can our solutions meet individual needs within this urban density?

We "humanize" our approach by focusing on the flow and volume of how people move – and we do this on every scale. Globally, we look at which cities people are moving to. Within cities, we examine the movement patterns across different areas and times of the day. And of course, we want to understand how people interact with individual buildings. This understanding at various scales gives us a sophisticated understanding of where, when, and why people are coming to each of our large projects – especially high-rise buildings.

We do very advanced traffic modelling to see how each of our projects addresses the human density peaks and flows, in relationship to the building’s uses, in order to optimize transport performance. We played a decisive role within ISO in helping to set the first modern global standard for the planning and selecting of elevators in buildings that has been approved by many national standards organizations.

It's important to note that we're not just looking at performance or ease of use when we seek to understand human density in cities. We also look at how our projects influence sustainable and resilient cities. We push for energy savings and make net-zero an objective, because this adds value to everyone everywhere, from the global to the individual scale.

We have products that respond to the individual needs of people in a building: for example, Schindler MyPORT allows touchless travels and can be configured for specific needs. In this way, we also know who is coming to our projects, and what their needs are, for example people with disabilities who require special access and transport features.

By understanding these elements, we can provide solutions that improve and enhance people’s lives not only in buildings, but also in urban environments.

We're very interested in how the use of buildings changes over time, as human needs and cities change. Demolishing buildings is becoming a less and less viable option, it’s expensive, time consuming, and unsustainable.

How do you think modernization of existing buildings can contribute to more sustainable cities?

About 80% of the buildings standing today will still be here in 30 years – but we know human needs can change fast, certainly much faster than over a 30-year period!

We're very interested in how the use of buildings changes over time, as human needs and cities change. Demolishing buildings is becoming a less and less viable option, it’s expensive, time consuming, and unsustainable.

Rejuvenating buildings is the key. But to do this effectively, buildings need to be adaptable to changing human needs and resilient overall to change in cities. This is where Schindler MetaCore will really be a game changer, as it provides this flexibility to both new and old buildings without massive structural changes – instead, floors and areas of a building can easily be repurposed to meet the needs of all involved.

This is a growing – and exciting – part of our work. Modernization is a fantastic opportunity because we get to "rethink" how a building operates and how we can improve, optimize, and adjust to improve sustainability and people’s experience. Schindler PORT Overlay is a great example of adapting the destination control to an existing building to deliver better and more precise sustainable performance in response to human density and change!

When we think of the sustainable cities of the future, the reality is that, while there'll inevitably be new buildings, it's extremely important to consider how we’ll change the buildings of today to provide a better tomorrow. Our current buildings can become the cool "futuristic" buildings of tomorrow – how we modernize and transform those buildings now is essential to define how our cities look and function in the future.

We are a proud platinum sponsor of the CTBUH 2023 International Conference.

Singapore & Kuala Lumpur: 16 to 21 October 2023

Humanizing High Density – People, Nature & the Urban Realm will advance the fundamental premise that high-density urbanization can support healthy living, working, and civic and social engagement.

Come listen to our speakers

During the CTBUH 2023 International Conference, our senior experts Robert Boog and Dr. Florian Trösch will provide insights into smart mobility, and how digitalization can make buildings safer, more efficient, sustainable, and attractive.  

Two of our solutions will also compete for the Overall Category Awards: Schindler MetaCore (Innovation Award) and Schindler R.I.S.E (Construction Award).