Skyscraper Skyline

The pros and cons of the skyscraper

Skyscrapers have begun to dominate our skylines. From the wealth of new construction going up in London, to cities such as New York or Hong Kong where skyscrapers have created an iconic aesthetic, they are an integral part of every urban environment today. But why are they so popular and what are the pros and cons of building so far up into the sky?

The cons of the skyscraper

Suppressing innovation

There is a theory that the skyscraper “canyons,” especially in Asia, can create a barrier to the kind of street level interaction that generates innovation. Many of the most innovative districts in the most built up cities are those that are populated by shorter and more traditional buildings, which have mid-rise, open-floor plan design that nurtures the kind of interaction that creates innovation.

The effect on the skyline

Not everyone enjoys the impact that skyscrapers can have on a city skyline. And many proposed projects have been confronted by objections, particularly with respect to the impact on views. Emily Gee, London planning director for Historic England, says: “We think towers should not harm cherished views, or ruin the settings of listed buildings and conservation areas. London must grow sustainably but that does not mean just upwards.”

Issues of safety

Thankfully, safety issues with skyscrapers have been fairly few and far between. However, they are more vulnerable than lower buildings to something like an earthquake and could be more difficult to manage in the event of an issue like fire.

The pros of the skyscraper

Creating space in large, dense cities

There is a correlation between the density of a city and the number and height of the skyscrapers it has. New York and Chicago, for example, now have considerable concentrations of tall buildings in the heart of their urban landscapes. In areas where there is significant density of population, skyscrapers create more room, whether that’s to live, work or shop.

Making cities greener

There are many who advocate for skyscrapers on the basis that they can be more environmentally friendly than a sizeable urban sprawl. Skyscrapers could provide a way to make the centre of a city a greener and more energy efficient environment, depending on how they are constructed and the technology used.

Social and economic motivation

Our cities can be a hot spot of social inequality and most built up areas suffer from a serious lack of housing, especially of the affordable kind. Skyscrapers have the potential to improve the availability of residential living space, providing more properties without development that eats into large volumes of land or green space. Many advocates of high rise living see this as a solution to housing shortages and the severe inequality we currently see in cities like London and New York.

Aesthetics and views

Skyscrapers provide those who occupy them with some pretty spectacular views of the city around them. They can be awe-inspiring structures with great symbolism when it comes to innovation and strength – and some have become iconic.

When it comes to contemporary construction we like to explore all sides of the issue. If you’d like to discuss how we work – and what we can do for you – then please get in touch with The RG Group today.

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