Urbanization and building in the age of smart Latin America

Smart technology is here to stay in Latin America – and the building sector is just one area where this is increasingly evident. We look at some intelligent new buildings in a time of massive urbanization in Latin America.

Latin America is one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions in the world. By 2050, 90% of all Latin Americans will live in cities. Urban planning initially struggled to keep up the pace. Today, innovations embedded in the Internet of Things and connectivity are bringing change, turning cities into hubs of smart solutions. Those urbanized regions that draw most on smart technology for better services can help ensure that the quality of living keeps pace with population growth. The building industry, in particular, has shown how merging smart technology, massive connectivity, and mixed-use, sustainable design can improve urban living. We look at some examples of impressive buildings in Latin America.

From country to city in record numbers

Latin America boasts the highest rates of urbanization in the world.1 From 1950 to 2010 – the percentage of people living in cities went from 30% to 85%. Cities like São Paulo and Mexico City are some of the world’s largest, each with over 21 million inhabitants. By 2050, 90% of the region’s population will live in urban areas.2

These booming metropolises, naturally, are economic powerhouses. To provide services that not only keep pace with this development but also nurture new growth and innovation, cities need to invest in smart technologies. Yet initially many Latin American cities were lagging in building a strong IT sector and data infrastructure with high connectivity.

Mexico City, Mexico

Smart growth is sustainable growth

Whether it’s governance, urban mobility, business, or safety, cities in Latin America have seen their fair number of challenges associated with rapidly growing cities. After an initial delay, they are now applying the kind of smart technologies embedded in the Internet of Things and big data that tackle pain points.

Cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil or Mexico City, Mexico were early adopters of smart technology-driven solutions like real-time monitoring of traffic and crime or applying interactive urban apps for better governance.

Close on their heels, Medellín, Columbia, transformed itself into a hub for high-tech; more than half of the city’s businesses are dedicated to ICT. Other cities on the rise have developed a reputation as being dynamic like Monterrey, Mexico where investment in the last decade has fueled a tech industry that has grown three times faster than anywhere else in the world.

Airport Florianópolis

Airport Florianópolis

Airport Florianópolis

Building up smart cities

Smart city governance and new tech business are on the move in Latin America, but perhaps like no other sector, building and construction have displayed a comprehensive merging of connectivity, sustainability, and better service.

The region has seen significant investment in public infrastructure projects: in Brazil, major urban mobility projects in Rio de Janeiro in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics, São Paulo’s metro system overhaul, the Airport Florianópolis extension, or in Central America, the Panama Canal expansion. All of these infrastructure projects exhibit intelligent solutions embedded in the Internet of Things.

In the private sector, new buildings stand as a symbol of transformation and the region’s embracing of smart technologies as well as a desire for green solutions – both São Paulo and Mexico City are pioneers in this area. Through the use of integrated smart building systems for security or HVAC, buildings are displaying the latest in cutting-edge technologies and energy efficiency.

TK Elevator is involved in many building projects in the region; the predictive maintenance solution MAX and ultra-modern elevators bring seamless mobility to buildings and help achieve the highest levels of energy efficiency and services associated with smart solutions.

One Tower
Birmann 32
SLS Puerto Madero

Smart buildings in Latin America

The image gallery features a selection of new buildings with mobility solutions, such as some of the fastest elevators in Brazil and service innovations like MAX and AGILE.

Many of these buildings like Espacio Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico; the SLS Puerto Madero in Buenos Aries, Argentina; or the Pacific Center in Panama City, Panama embrace mixed-used design, which help deliver better energy efficiency and sustainability. The Pacific Center, spread over more than 200 thousand square meters, sees a great deal of foot traffic requiring excellent in-house mobility solutions. The 41 elevators, each with a capacity of 10 – 26 passengers, serve up to 34 stops and operate at 4 meters per second. They will operate with AGILE to direct passengers to the next available elevator, improving traffic efficiency and reducing the building’s energy consumption.

Balneário Camboriú is known as the Brazilian Dubai due to its large concentration of tall buildings:

  • The Infinity Coast, completed in December 2019, has four elevators that whisk passengers in just one minute to the roof on the 66th floor, thanks to the elevators’ speed of 4 meters per second. MAX will be installed to ensure the highest levels of uptime and service.
  • Another new addition One Tower will be one of the highest buildings in the city and at 280 meters, one of the tallest residential buildings in Latin America once completed. The five elevators operate at 5 meters per second and are installed with the Active Roller Guide, just like in the One World Trade Center, reducing oscillations in the cab for maximum passenger comfort.

In São Paulo, the Birmann 32 designed by Pei Partnership Architects has risen to become a new landmark for the city. Once completed, it will have Brazil’s fastest elevators at 7 meters per second. To ensure seamless flow through all 27 elevators, the building will integrate AGILE Destination Controls in the turnstiles with card and touch screen terminals, and also use the AGILE Management Center to schedule the use of elevators. The elevators will also utilize MAX.

Next generation technology enhancing elevators by making them quicker, smarter, and more flexible.


  1. World Urbanization ProspectsUnited Nations
  2. Smart City Challenge Latin AmericaEconsult Solutions

Image Credits
Airport Florianópolis 1, picture by Sergio Sona
Airport Florianópolis 2, picture by Julia Munhoz
Pacific Center Panama, picture by Divulgação
SLS Puerto Madero, picture by Divulgação
One Tower, picture by FG
Balneário Camboriú, video by Paulo Travels, taken from youtube.com