Historic Development and Specific Dutch Situation of High-Rise Buildings
High rise had become possible at the end of the nineteenth century due to several technical finds and improvements in building techniques. Steel and armed concrete simplified high rise and the introduction of the elevator safety braking system in 1853 made high rise practically useful (ASHRAE 2011). Due to the population and economic growth in cities, taller buildings became very popular. ASHRAE Technical Committee TC 9.12, Tall Buildings, defines a tall building as one whose height is greater than 91 m. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat defines a tall building as one in which the height strongly influences planning, design, or use (ASHRAE 2011).
Although the Netherlands is a rather highly dense populated country, with around 16.5 million people on an area of around 200 by 350 km with 40 % water, it has not real big cities. The biggest cities are Amsterdam and Rotterdam with both less than a million, however especially in the western part of the country all cities are more or less connected to each other. There is no free unused spTace left. Especially in the big cities there is now a trend towards higher buildings although the Netherlands have no real tradition on this. Although, in 1897 the first skyscraper in Europe was built, the White House, 42 m high was built in Rotterdam, see Fig. 2.1. As most of the country is below sea level, protected by the dykes, the soil is often of clay and sand, not the most stable underground to build high-rise buildings on.
The high-rise record for a Dutch office building went next to the 64 m tall GEB building in 1931 in Rotterdam. Only in 1969 this was taken over by the medical faculty of the Erasmus MC which was 114 m. Then in 1982, established high-rise foundation and Rem Koolhaas praise of high rise in Delirious New York were a major stimulation of high-rise buildings in the Netherlands and especially in Rotterdam. From 1986 a large amount of high office buildings were realized in the city center. Since 1991 for quite a long period the record of tallest building in the Netherlands was held by the head office of the Nationale Nederlanden with its 151 m (Architecture in Rotterdam 2014). This was taken over by the Maas Tower (165 m) the highest building in the Netherlands, see Fig. 2.2.
Internationally seen the Rotterdam Skyscrapers are but small ones. Even in 1931 New York already had set the trend with its 381 m high Empire State Building. In the
Fig. 2.1 The White House—Rotterdam 1897 (Rijksmonumenten 2015)
Fig. 2.2 Maas Tower Rotterdam, tallest building in the Netherlands last decades, the sky seems to be the limit with Asia leading the way in extreme high rise with the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (450 m), the Taipei 101 (508 m) and the Burj Dubai (818 m) in the United Arab Emirates. The statistics of tall buildings are available at www.skyscraperpage.com.