More tall buildings are being constructed around the world than has been the case at any other time in history, a new report has revealed.

The Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has released the 2023 edition of its Year in Review report.

According to the report, a total of 175 tall buildings (buildings of 200 meters in height or greater) were completed across calendar 2023.

This was well above the 154 tall building completions in 2022 and was 7.4 percent higher compared with the previous record in 2018.

The growth in tall buildings was widely spread, with as many as 18 cities recording a new tallest building in 2023 (see report).

The past year has also seen the completion of the world’s second tallest building – the 118 storey Merdeka 118 building in Kuala Lumpur (pictured above).

Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, the 679m building features offices, a retail mall, a Park Hyatt Hotel and serviced residences.

The review highlighted trends which are occurring across several areas.

First, the pace at which tall buildings are being constructed continues to increase exponentially.

Indeed, the 175 tall buildings that were completed last year alone represented almost as many tall buildings as were completed in the entire two decades leading up to and including the Year 2000 (192 buildings).

One factor behind the growth in tall buildings is the movement of people from rural and regional locations into cities.

Worldwide, the portion of people who live in cities has increased from 34 percent in 1960 to 57 percent in 2022, according to open data from The World Bank.

Another factor may be the relative shift in economic focus toward Asia and the Middle East.

For a myriad of cultural, planning, geographic and other reasons, development in these regions may be more conducive to tall building construction compared with that which occurs in Europe or North America.

Another observation is the shift in the geographic profile of tall building construction.

Throughout the twentieth century, more than eight in ten tall building completions around the world were located in North America.

Of those tall buildings that were completed in 2023, almost two-thirds (64 percent) are in Asia whilst almost one in five (18 percent) are in the Middle East.

Turning to specific countries, China is the primary focus of activity.

Of the 175 buildings of 200m or greater in height that were completed in 2023, more than half (94) were located in China.

This sits well above the UAE and India (11 each) in second and third place whilst Malaysia (10) and the US (8) rounded out the top five.

Regarding specific cities, Shenzhen near Hong Kong in China’s south is the clear leader.

All up, the city is home to 27 of the tall buildings that were completed in 2023.

Furthermore, with a total of 161 buildings of 200m or more in height, Shenzhen is now home to one in every fourteen such buildings in the world.

Next, the focus of tall buildings is shifting towards mixed-use and residential buildings.

In the year 2000, pure office buildings accounted for more than eight in ten buildings of 200m or greater in height.

Today, office-only buildings account for only 36 percent of all tall buildings.

Over that same period, mixed-use buildings have shot up from 10 percent to more than half (51 percent) of worldwide tall buildings whilst residential buildings have gone from virtually nothing to 10 percent of tall buildings.

A final trend is growing use of multiple materials in a composite arrangement (primarily concrete and steel) as the primary structural system in tall buildings.

Up until the 1960s, almost all tall buildings were made using an all-steel primary structural system.

Beginning in the1970s, all-concrete buildings took off – reaching their peak in 2010 at 39 percent of all newly completed tall buildings.

Nowadays, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of all newly completed tall buildings use a composite structure.

Speaking about the increase in completions in 2023, CTBUH CEO Javier Qunitana de Uña said that this reflects the completion of projects that were commenced prior to COVID.

Nevertheless, he said that strong underlying momentum remains in tall building construction.

“The data in our report suggest a return to pre-pandemic growth in tall-building industries,” de Uña said.

“This reflects the resumption of projects started before the global COVID outbreak, which were temporarily halted or delayed by the ensuing material shortages, inflation increases and other factors—but there is definitely upward momentum in the field.”

Based on its current database of buildings under construction, CTBUH expects another strong year or tall building completions in 2024.

All up, it expects that between 150 and 190 tall buildings will be completed this year.

Of these, it expects 15 to 25 buildings to be supertalls (300m or above).

The tallest building which is anticipated to be completed in 2023 will most likely be the 458.2 meter International Land-Sea Centre in the central Chinese city of Chongqing.


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