High-flyers: China is on top of the world for skyscraper construction

Shanghai 2018This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Adam Jezard, Formative Content

China seems determined to reach the stars by building ever-taller skyscrapers. In 2017 it saw the construction of 144 high-rises of more than 200 metres (660 feet) in height, including 15 described as “supertall” structures that tower above 300m (980 ft), according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

The city of Shenzhen is a particular tall-building hotspot, with CNN’s architectural journalist Christopher DeWolf writing in July 2017 that 11 of 128 tall towers built in the past year had been constructed within its environs. This was more than were built in the US, and twice the number in any other Chinese city.

The reason for the city’s attractiveness is due to its designation in the 1980s as a special economic zone, in which companies are subject to less regulation. The need for office space and accommodation for businesses and workers trying to make the most of its competitive advantages has powered the city’s vertical growth.

However, the Chinese construction sector overall has been an enticing draw for non-domestic lenders, attracting around $4 billion in inward investment, with Taiwan, France and the US being among the biggest bettors on the sector, according to fDi Markets, a Financial Times company that monitors financial speculation in global markets.

In 2016, Shenzhen topped the list of Chinese cities with both the fastest-rising property prices and number of inhabitants, having enjoyed a population increase of more than 6000% between 1985 and 2015.

High-rise, high finance

But, while China may be leading the field, it is not the only emerging and developing economy to be fixated on stretching its towers as high as it can.

According to a 2015 report by Global Construction, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is home to more than 160 towers of more than 160m (525 ft), while the Burj Khalifa in Dubai tops 828m (2717 ft). Meanwhile, the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia has the ambition of being the first building in the world to be a kilometre high when it is completed in 2020 – and so deprive the Burj of its crown as the world’s highest building.

It is perhaps no accident that high-rise buildings have often been associated with high finance. The first skyscrapers appeared in the late 19th century, with the Jenney’s Home Insurance Building in Chicago, completed in 1885, often cited as the first to meet the definition: it was a steel-framed building of more than 10 storeys.

Building in Chicago, completed in 1885, often cited as the first to meet the definition: it was a steel-framed building of more than 10 storeys.

Image: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

The financial and commercial centre of New York soon followed in Chicago’s wake, with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, completed in the late 1920s and early 1930s, providing pioneering examples of how cities aspiring to international greatness could use the size of their constructions to demonstrate their commercial virility.

But the world order is changing, and Asian and Middle East nations are now vying with older, established economies to be the future leaders in finance and technology-based industries.

Fawlty Towers?

According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat: “The distribution of the world’s 100 tallest buildings [completed in the previous year] broadly reflects that of the wider set of 200 metre-plus buildings worldwide. Asia leads with 54, followed by the Middle East with 26, North America with 15, and Europe with four.”

However, it is notable that the European four were constructed in the emerging economy of Turkey.

So does the emergence of ever-taller skyscrapers tell us anything about which countries and cities will be successful – or can the continual rise of buildings in metres and feet be used to predict their economies’ downfall?

In 1999, property analyst Andrew Lawrence developed what he called the Skyscraper Index: Fawlty Towers, that argued the construction of record-breakingly tall skyscrapers could be used to predict coming financial crises. The British author C. Northcote Parkinson had also observed that it was mainly failed or failing organizations that had good-looking, well-planned buildings.

Image: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

While more recently researchers have rejected Lawrence’s claims, they say there may be some correlation between increasing gross domestic product and skyscraper height, and that taller buildings may be being completed at or near the height of business cycles.

However, with economists asking if markets around the globe are overvalued, and experts particularly worried whether China’s economy is overinflated with debt, speculators may be looking at the world’s fastest-rising buildings and wondering if the value of the tall structures they have invested in could have a long way to tumble.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

These 3 tech visionaries are reinventing the wheelchair

Africa-Europe Alliance: first projects kicked off just three months after launch

Texting is a daily source of stress for 1/3 of people – are you one of them?

Fairer food supply chain: Agriculture MEPs clamp down on unfair trading

Pandemic and quarantine: What can we do for our mental health?

Coronavirus: Commission issues guidance to ensure essential freight keeps moving by air

The EU approves a new package of budget assistance to the Republic of Moldova to support rule of law and rural development reforms

After the Italian ‘no’ and the Brexit, Germans must decide which Europe they want

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

Will Europe be a different place this Monday?

There is no patient safety without healthcare workers’ safety

European Border and Coast Guard: 10 000-strong standing corps by 2027

How Abu Dhabi found a way to grow vegetables in 40-degree heat

MEPs urge the EU to lead the way to net-zero emissions by 2050

Closing the gap in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

Austria’s EU Presidency: Chancellor Sebastian Kurz aims to “build bridges”

These rules could save humanity from the threat of rogue AI

How the US election result could light the touch paper of hope for disability justice

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

Clean Mobility: Commission tables proposal on car emissions testing in real driving conditions

Post-Cotonou negotiations on new EU/Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Partnership Agreement concluded

Educational disadvantage starts from age 10

These countries have some of the highest voter turnout in the world

Eurozone: Avoiding a new Greek accident

This is how a smart factory actually works

Coronavirus containment is the key, as infections tick up: Tedros

DR Congo: Ebola response resumes despite ‘risky environment’

Tax revenues have reached a plateau

Coronavirus: Commission signs a joint procurement contract with Gilead for the supply of Remdesivir

Educate children in their mother tongue, urges UN rights expert

Facts and prejudices about work

Universal access to energy is a major challenge for the Arab world. Here’s why

Skeptic France about Trump-Juncker trade deal favoring German cars; EU’s unity in peril

Can Greece’s democratic institutions keep it in Eurozone?

6 ways China and the United States could jumpstart trade reforms

These Dutch microgrid communities can supply 90% of their energy needs

Online government services could change your life. But only if you have access to the internet

New Zealand has unveiled its first ‘well-being’ budget

Monday’s Daily Brief: global homicide figures, neo-Nazi recruitment, Kashmir, and migrants’ plight in USA

Security Council should ‘nurture’ Colombian consensus against return to violence, top UN official urges

4 ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable

Coronavirus: Commission Statement on consulting Member States on proposal to prolong and adjust State aid Temporary Framework

Relevance of palliative care in current medicine and Universal Health Coverage

FROM THE FIELD: Survival in Yemen against all odds

EU adopts retaliative measures in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs

Launch of Pact for Youth: European Youth Forum calls for real business engagement

What’s needed to protect food security in Africa during COVID-19

FEATURE: Niger’s girls find sanctuary in fistula treatment centres

Connected Claims Europe on 18-19 September 2019, in association with The European Sting

How TV has brought mental health issues into the light – and helped to banish stigma

How to build healthy cities and communities in the post-COVID world

The road ahead to building a more sustainable world

The untold story of who caused and who pays for the economic crisis

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

The silent epidemic that is three times as deadly as COVID

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

State aid: Commission approves UK schemes to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak

Traffic congestion cost the US economy nearly $87 billion in 2018

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s