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Project Highrise – October 2015 Architect’s Notes

You can put down a bad book; you can avoid listening to bad music; but you cannot miss the ugly tower block opposite your house.
Renzo Piano

Where do all of those artificial people go when they leave work? This month, we reveal the secrets of homelife in Project Highrise.

Home is where the heart(h) is
So far, we’ve mainly talked about buildings full of offices and things related to office workers’ wants and needs – from the restaurants where they head for lunch to the couriers who deliver their important packages. But tall buildings are not always full of offices and business activity. Often, they’re towering residential blocks teeming with apartments, condos and amenities for the sky-dwelling urbanite.


For you as the building manager, there are important differences between offices and apartments: apartments are much more needy. Kitchens need gas hookups, bathrooms need water, and apartment dwellers want cable TV to entertain themselves. And that’s just utilities, don’t even get me started about amenities like laundry rooms or gyms.

Trash talk
But first, let’s talk about garbage (and recycling). Apartment living is messy and all of that garbage generated by life’s daily activity needs to go somewhere. Apartment residents want to be able to get rid of their refuse easily and will want trash bins (1) and recycling rooms (2) available on each floor.


Once those fill up, your building maintenace staff will collect discarded items from bins, and bring them into your building’s central trash rooms (3) or recycling centers (4). You’ll have a contract with a hauler that will empty them out every once in awhile.

Right now, the recycling center (2) is full and could use a pick-up. Until it gets emptied, your building maintenace staff won’t be able to put anything else in it. So they won’t be able to clear out the small bins on each floor. Following the chain backwards to the point of generation, that means that when that resident on the top goes to empty her household recycling, she’ll find that the room is full. And it probably doesn’t smell great or look nice. On top of that, she can’t dump her garbage. That will make her upset.

What’s that smell? And noise? And…
No one wants to live near a trash heap of fish heads and eggshells. Trash stinks, so you’ll have to be careful about where you locate trash and recycling facilities. Here’s the building with an overlay in red showing the impact and extent of the smelliness generated by the trash. While the elevators don’t care so much, the people to the right might be a little upset by the constant odor of everyone’s garbage next door.


And your residents will be sensitive to a whole array of environmental factors. Offices and stores tend to be noisy, while restaurants have kitchen smells and loud parties, so they’ll need a bigger buffer between them and your apartments.

But for some, living close to the elevator might be nice. And everyone likes a view, so apartments on higher floors will command premium rents. Putting in some nice artwork or otherwise improving the appearance of your tower will also go down well with your tenants.

Status and clout
So now it looks like “building super” is also on your list of jobs in Project Highrise. And while dealing with an angry tenant is never any fun, there will be considerable benefits for welcoming apartments into your tower. Apartments are where people live, sleep and bring up the next generation. They’re home. You’ll be able to take advantage of the political power generated by your residents in other spheres of development, and leverage that to your benefit. But that’s a subject for a later discussion.