Times and tastes have changed. It is no longer enough to be a tall building with just a restaurant at the top offering a birds-eye view of the city: visitors want to walk, jump, even slide, high in the sky.
A thrill-seeker generation is game for something special – an added attraction, a visitor experience – and the property market is feeding global demand, delivering towering structures with a difference worldwide.
In Canada, Toronto has the EdgeWalk, where you can go full-circle, hands-free in a harness all the way round the roof on the exterior, atop the 116-storey CN Tower. If you would rather jump than walk, New Zealand offers the Auckland SkyJump, where daredevil visitors plummet on a wire 192 feet down the Sky Tower, at a speed of 85km/h.
This dynamic growth pattern in commercial high-rise development appears part of a broader trend affecting the tourism market at large, observes Wayne Allison, National Director, Project Management, at JLL.
“There’s an evolution in tourism, which is proving influential. For attractions and destinations to engage and connect, perhaps repeatedly, there has to be a value-add,” he says. “This seems to be a driver not just for bolt-ons to new buildings, but also upgrades to existing, even historic landmarks. Both the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge now have a feature glass floor and there is a demand for more interactive and immersive kinds of visitor experience, especially among a younger demographic.”
When tall alone is not enough
To boost the profile of an aspiring world city in a global marketplace, signature high-rise structures still represent a must-have for 21st-century development. However, with competition rising like the skyline, the real estate challenge is changing. As a crowdpuller, tall still works, just not on its own, explains Emma Cullen, Projects & Marketing Manager for the Eureka Skydeck experience, in Melbourne, Australia.
“Tall buildings have always played a big role,” she says. “Most large cities can be identified by a single tower or structure, such as the Empire State Building, Burj Khalifa or The Shard. Now, however, with the growth of urban high-rise living, a tower’s beautiful design or highest peak doesn’t automatically grant icon status.”
Cullen speaks from a unique perspective, literally. A gold-plated skyscraper by the Yarra River, Eureka Tower is the world’s tallest residential building, boasting the highest public observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere. As well as an unparalleled visual panorama, Eureka Skydeck is also home to the Edge Experience – a glass cube that projects out from the 88th floor suspending visitors almost 300 meters above the city.