News & Events

Size matters when it comes to buildings Posted: 11/09/2009

 By Ning Zhao (Joanny)\"SketchupA Sketchup design of a riverside development

Within the URSULA Value Theme we have conducted a stylised and empirical analysis to investigate how building height determines the profitability of the building. In this model, we accounted for the values, costs as well as profits for a building which varied from 1 story to 30 stories buildings to reveal the general financial trends of how profitability was affected by the number of building stories. This knowledge is important to decision-making in urban design, especially as the numbers of high-rise buildings are mushrooming. Intriguingly, this model indicates there are some inflexions of profitability which will significantly affect the developers’ decision-making of building height. These are caused by thresholds, beyond which developers are required include more expensive facilities or building structural forms in order to keep the building safe. For example, above 13 floors, developers are required to include at least 2 lifts within each building unit, which increases costs considerably. Such models can then be coupled with Sketchup, allowing the user to explore different building designs and see how this affects profitability. 

As a visiting researcher in URSULA, I am conducting modelling work in Task 9, Financial-Physical Analysis. This is related to a Chinese research project I formerly worked on in which the relationship between housing price and building height was analysed. A paper ‘A Housing Price Model for Determination of Control Indices in Regulatory Plans for Chinese Medium-size and Small-size Towns’ was presented by Chen Hua, Zhe Gu and myself in Zhejiang University, at the 23rd Congress of Association of European Schools of Planning in July.