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Horizontal Development vs. Vertical Development?


Staff member
Patterns of urban growth are being studied from long time now. We have example of exceptional and well known cities & urban areas which have opted for vertical Development and as well as horizontal development. Both of these form of development have their own pros and cons. Which one do you think is best & in what manner?
Some of the associated aspects are mentioned below to help start the pros and cons, see if you can add more to it.


Commuting distance within the urban area decreases in a Vertical Development. MRTS & other form of public transport are very well the lifeline of the area. This often results in traffic congestion leading to wastage of time. If managed properly, it help save time & reduce carbon emissions.

While on the other hand, long commute in Horizontal Development requires more time. Per capita carbon emissions also increases. Public transport play an important role but it's acceptance remains a concern. Overall people experience a better quality of life in few cased and do not feel suffocated. Have more open areas available to them near the workplace.

Infrastructure & Networks

The underground or the hidden network & infrastructure forms the strength of overall development. The pipelines such as that of drainage, sewerage, electrical, telephone, internet & the overall usage & function of CUD (common utility duct) are major considerations. These network require large underground volume as the pipelines are thick & requires more energy for pumping activities.

Horizontal Development on the other hand, have thinner pipelines but the network is far spread. The quantity of material used increases significantly. Pumping might not be much of an issue if things are planned properly. use of gravity and gradients can be used to reduce the transmission cost and power. Leak detection or any other repair might be difficult to detect.

Energy Consumption

Energy consumption in vertical development is considered higher. This is not complete true since there are different form of energies involved. The electrical consumption might be higher since the vertical movement of people & resources add to the direct electrical consumption. However, the reduced horizontal movement might decrease the consumption of fossil fuels, an indirect energy consumption in an area. The transportation requirements are reduced & highly optimised.

Horizontal development do not face an increased or exceptional demand of electricity for vertical movement however, commuting adds to the consumption. People might require to use motor vehicles to commute as compared to a non motor option in a vertical development.

Infrastructure & Building Cost

Construction cost escalates as we go higher and higher. There is a requirement of stronger & specialised type of foundation. Per capita usable space also reduces as we continue with vertical development. The construction cost increases significantly and exponentially with each added floor. The cost saved in terms of land area/ acquisition is used up in construction cost.

Horizontal development on other hand provide with relatively cheaper construction. The cost of buying land however escalates. It become important and difficult to find the right parcel or land at affordable price.

We will keep on adding more information from time to time. Share your views & suggestions below!