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Living in the sky: How Jakartans built a suburb on top of a shopping centre

Back in August, we covered the growth of drone usage in construction. But as well as monitoring site progress and tracking quantities of materials, drones can also assist in discovering more unusual developments.

A drone pilot on Twitter drew the world’s attention this summer when he tweeted a picture of a little known rooftop suburb in the Indonesian capital. “Good morning Jakarta” he wrote. “What type of person thinks about developing a housing complex on top of a building?”

His question was retweeted more than 26,000 times, as fascinated Twitter users shared the image of this surreal suburb with their followers.

While we have all seen a rooftop garden like the one above, an entire suburb on top of a ten-storey shopping centre and car park is a little more unusual.

With 78 identical two-storey homes, roads, trees, a tennis court and a swimming pool, it’s an idyllic place to live, especially compared with the surrounding high-rise flats. There is a tall metal fence around the perimeter, so that no one falls off, and a ramp for residents to drive down to ground level.

Residents talk of being in an oasis, where they feel less worried about the flooding in the capital below. And unlike with apartment living, they chat to their neighbours, feed the birds and smell the roses, while their children play outside.

Is this what the future looks like for our own crowded cities in the UK? Possibly. Though not on quite the same scale. Certainly, the team at Apex Airspace believes rooftop buildings – which they call ‘airspace homes’ – can help to solve our own capital city’s housing shortage.

The CEO of this development firm, Arshad Bhatti, says, “It might seem futuristic, but lots of new airspace developments are already sprouting. At Apex alone we’re in discussions on some 2,200 homes across the public and private sectors, and our research has found that London eventually has the capacity for 180,000 airspace homes.”

With the offsite modular construction techniques this company uses, these developments also offer a much quicker way to build homes at a time when the capital has a huge undersupply of accommodation. When you lack space, there’s a need for innovative, disruptive developments, and luckily it looks like more of these are starting to be built.

Of course, there are structural considerations when you build on top of an existing building, but this is an interesting way to look at tackling the housing shortage.

And if you need assistance with the structural elements of a project – whether or not you are building on top of a shopping centre – please do get in touch.

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