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Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 1:32 AM
memph memph is offline
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Economics of building narrow towers in Sao Paulo vs North America

One of the things I've noticed about Sao Paulo after checking out the city on streetview/google maps is that they have a lot of narrow highrises, usually 10-30 storeys tall. By narrow, I mean 2000-4000 sf floor plates, and only a small percentage of highrises with floor plates of over 6000 sf. By comparison, Vancouver highrises seem to have mostly 6000-8000 sf floor plates and Toronto highrises are mostly 8000-12000 sf floor plates for point towers, and up to 20000 sf for slab towers.

People often say that smaller buildings and buildings with smaller floor plates are not profitable enough to build in the North American context, but Sao Paulo seems to have plenty of those. They're quite common in other Brazilian cities too. Sao Paulo does not have the extreme wealth of Manhattan, nor those it have the extreme land constraints that can explain Hong Kong's "pencil towers". Although most of the Sao Paulo highrises are probably not geared towards its low income population, they're still common enough that I'd expect its residents to be broad middle or upper-middle class, similar to how it is with the residents of highrises in North American cities.

So what's different about Sao Paulo/Brazil that makes these kinds of buildings more economically feasible? Why does Sao Paulo build so few large (8000sf+) floorplate buildings and why do North American cities build so few small (<5000sf) floorplate buildings?
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