Supertall Skyscrapers Fudge their Height with Spires 1

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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
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Burj Al Arab
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The Council on Tall Buildings and Habitat (CTBUH) has investigated a growing trend in buildings installing add-ons that do not include usable space in order to achieve “super-tall” status.

“We noticed in Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, that a fair amount of the top of the building seemed to be an unoccupied spire,” the organisation said in a report. “This prompted us to investigate the increasing trend towards extreme spires and other extensions of tall buildings that do not enclose usable space…”

The Council has now coined the term “Vanity Height” which is defined as “the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top, as determined by CTBUH Height Criteria.”

world's ten tallest height vanity heights

According to the council, a supertall building is one that rises above 300 metres, with megatall buildings rising in excess of 800 metres.

Key findings in the report demonstrate that many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers are justifying their heights with an exceptionally high amount of unoccupied space throughout their structures.

This trend could continue as a worldwide skyscraper boom responds to a demand for vertical living in urban areas while also offering architects the opportunity to design buildings that could also be globally recognised.

The CTBUH has compiled a list of the world’s 10 tallest buildings with vanity heights. The city of Dubai dominated the list with five towers listed, while the United Arab Emirates house the most “vain” supertall buildings around the world with an average vanity height of 19 per cent.

world's ten tallest height vanity heights

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab building takes the title of the highest non-occupiable-to-occupiable height ratio with an incredible 124 metres (39 per cent) of its 321-metre height confirmed as non-occupiable space.

The current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, didn’t fare much better with the report revealing that 244 metres of its final height of 828 metres is also unused space.

The remainder of the list included three Chinese towers and two New York buildings, including The Bank of America Tower (36 per cent non-occupiable space) and The New York Times Tower (31 per cent non-occupiable space.)

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Centre New York

The report states that there have been 74 completed supertalls in the world, including the now-demolished One and Two World Trade Centre towers in New York.

The building that will officially replace the originally demolished twin towers, One World Trade Centre, has drawn consistent debate over its official height and controversial 124-metre spire.

The CTBUH report also states that without the vanity height, 44 of the world’s 72 super talls (61 per cent) would measure less than 300 metres, thus losing their supertall status.

chrysler building

New York Chrysler Building Spire

The prize for the “vainest” building overall goes to the Ukraina Hotel in Moscow, Russia where 42 per cent of its 206-metre height is non-occupiable.

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  1. tariq rasool

    Yes the tallness displays the ambitions and aspirations of the corporate sector for which sky scrappers are built.. We the architects join them to build as tall or taller than the rest. Man has an exceptional desire to build tall because we are mis construed and feel that Technology and Progress cannot be exhibited if we do not go skywards. We Seldom realize that by creating the lone standing disdainful towers we are disturbing the serene balance of the Earth with the cosmos