Reaching sky high

The newly-built Shanghai Tower (on the right) adding to the city’s impressively tall skyline The newly-built Shanghai Tower (on the right) adding to the city’s impressively tall skyline Zhao Jian Kang
12 Mar
2016
The world continued surging upwards in 2015, breaking records for the number of new tall buildings built in a single year

The financial sector might be nervously glancing over its shoulder at China’s apparent economic slowdown, but there are seemingly no such concerns in the world of Chinese skyscraper construction. 62 new buildings over 200m tall were added to China’s cities last year, far more than the rest of the world. For the first time ever, over 100 new skyscrapers (106 to be exact) were added to global city skylines within a single year, with the busiest constructors after China being Indonesia (nine), the UAE (seven) and Russia (four). Overall, 76 per cent of these new skyscrapers are in Asia, continuing a trend that has been underway since the 1980s. 48 of the 100 world’s tallest buildings are now located there, with 28 in the Middle East and only 17 in North America – once the dominant force in worldwide skyscraper building. Last year even saw Chicago’s 442m Willis Tower, once the world’s tallest, drop out of the top ten, following completion of the 632m Shanghai Tower, now the second-tallest in the world behind Dubai’s 828m Burj Khalifa.

‘America was the birthplace of the tall building, and it’s really phenomenal that One World Trade Centre [New York, 541m] is now the only building from the United States in the top ten,’ says Jason Gabel, spokesperson for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which published these latest figures in its annual report. ‘Much as America used to use the tower for the promotion and the image of a company, we see the Middle East and Asia using tall buildings as a way to put themselves on the global map.’

At the turn of the millennium, there were 265 skyscrapers over 200m tall around the world, a number which had boomed to 1,040 by the end of 2015. CTBUH predicts that 2016, and even 2017, will see more skyscraper construction than ever before, with China again leading the way. ‘As long as its urban population growth continues on its trajectory,’ says Gabel, ‘I think this will be the new normal.’

This was published in the March 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Forests

Indigenous conservation schemes in Peru can be more effective than…

Mapping

How are the EU member nations faring in the fight…

Mapping

Violence against women violates human rights, and the lack of…

Cities

Deadly heat waves could become more frequent in cities thanks…

Mapping

These 13 poignant infographics are in the running for the…

Mapping

Sometimes referred to as the fourth dimension, time has a…

Forests

A global, citizen-led carbon sequestration scheme is aiming to combat…

Mountains

Among the Himalaya region, which along with most of the…

Cities

Beijing looks set to welcome to its streets an innovative…

Cities

The next step towards declaring London a National Park City…

Mapping

The spatial distribution of healthcare workers globally tells us a…

Forests

After an ‘unprecedented’ surge northwards into New Jersey, New York…

Forests

The historic end of civil war in Colombia has had…

Mapping

Where in America can the country's various hate groups be…

Water

The southern US state is sinking twice as fast as…

Cities

An increase in visitors is putting severe strain on Iceland’s…

Cities

Air pollution campaigners hold a disco roadblock, but can it…

Cities

Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality…

Forests

HSBC has requested a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil investigation…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig explores visions of a world made bright by humanity