Materials for supertall buildings

If you feel like the whole world is moving into cities you wouldn't be entirely wrong. More than 70% of the global population is expected to be living in urban areas by 2050. We need to meet this housing demand by being able to provide suitable and economical technolgy to build taller buildings.

One of the main consequences of the increasing population in cities will be the growing demand in real estate. And, because of the cost of infrastructure - roads, electricity and water distribution, sewage, communication and transportation - is very much inflating with cities' superficies, the trend of city living will be to expand vertically with including green areas, rather than vertically.

The science of tall building design is evolving rapidly, using the power of digitalisation and software to design and model the most adventurous and complex buildings coming from the fertile imagination and creativity of architects.

Every day, engineers are developing the way we use materials in the construction of tall buildings. Lighter materials that help to reduce the weight of the structure and each construction are becoming more and more relevant, and the use of aluminium facades and windows in high-rise buildings is a perfect example of such a trend.

In facades and building envelopes for high-rise construction, aluminium is one of the best materials to use, associated with glass, composite panels, glass-reinforced concrete, etc.

why aluminium is suited for use in high-rise constructions

Here are a few reasons why aluminium is one of the best materials for use in facades and building envelopes in high-rise projects:

  • Flexibility of profile shapes

The great advantage of aluminium is the combination of good mechanical characteristics and the ease, thanks to the extrusion process, to obtain any profile shape that suit the specification in terms of aesthetics as well as performance.

  • The ability to resist stress factors

Mechanical performance includes ensuring the facades ability to resist stress factors such as wind pressure and the weight of other components entering in its composition. The additional benefit is the ability to accomodate requirements arising from the possible movement of the structure - from small natural thermal or structural movements to major displacement when buildings are required to be earthquake-safe.

  • Management of the flow and exchange between the internal and external world

Faqcades, as the boundaries between the inside and outside, also have to manage various types of flows and exchanges between the internal and external world. Moreover, these facades and building envelopes will need to become more and more "smart" to optimise the internal comfort of the users - at all times of the day - according to external conditions such as temperature, sun, rain, wind and other weather conditions.

Among these factors that need to be accommodated, these are the most important to ensure success when designing a super-tall building:

  • Air and water tightness
  • Thermal performance (energy saving)
  • Energy production 
  • Solar management (sun control and shading)


On top of these, other factors such as economic performance, or cost-effectiveness and sustainability will be more and more essential. From these points,  aluminium is one of the best, and most unique material choices.


Original article by Jean-Marc Luvisutto, Hydro

Materials for supertall buildings (

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