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This lecture was mainly about high-rise buildings and how they have great influence on the cities they are built in. I want to talk about how skyscrapers are not all efficient to use which i will show through two contrasting cases studies.

“Skyscrapers are a result of the belief that the sky is the only limit to our ambitions.” With the rapid development of China, there is an assumption that most of the big cities are “short of space and the population is always increasing.” (Jolly, 2013) Then as the younger population receive higher education, there is a spread of different levels of education around China. So people have different responses some may place value on their personal space and privacy. In addition, there is the trend that they choose to live apart from their parents and organize their own family unit which means that one family may have several appartments. As a consequence, making skyscrapers which can meet all these demands is difficult, even in this circumstance there is not enough available space for providing additional living space.

After construction it can be observed that typically with skyscrapers people prefer to buy apartments or office rooms on the high floors, because they think of it as simple of thrill and show of power. “Looking down at the world from a high rise apartment house gives us an indefinable pleasure.” So skyscrapers can attract human fantasy with their great charm and beauty.


  • Case 1: International Commerce Centre

Fig 1: International Commerce Centre                                                          Fig 2: Floor functions of International Commerce Centre

This building was constructed in Hong Kong. It was the 4th tallest building when it was built, at the time it is the 10th tallest skyscraper by height. As we can see from the table above, every floor has been fully utilised which means this skyscraper has being efficiently occupied.

Furthermore, people have always associated tall buildings with power and respect, just like the Egyptian kings who built high pyramids and then proceeded to fill them with their treasures. As more designers tend to design skyscrapers instead of shorter buildings even though they are not useful. As Jolly said that “tall skyscrapers have all the modern amenities inside them, theres still there is a high risk involved in living inside them.” He also mentioned that “the skyscrapers are vulnerable to front of natural calamities like earthquake.”

In the lecture, Graham said that “fully 19% of the height of UAE skyscrapers was completely unlettable and unoccupiable.” And within the ten tallest skyscrapers in the world in 2013, “fully 27 % was entirely superfluous attributed to ‘vanity height’.”(Graham, 2016)

Fig 3: The 10 tallest vanity height in the world


  • Case 2: Khalifa Tower in Dubai

Fig 4: The Khalifa Tower


Khalifa Tower in Dubai famously known as the tallest building in the world. The establishment of this tower demonstrates that it is possible to design and engineer supertall buildings. It combines advanced technologies with cultural influence at the same time. “The Tower and its surrounding neighborhood are more centralized than any other new development in Dubai.” ( (, 2014).




Fig 5: Floor functions of  Khalifa Tower


From this picture , we can see that the floors above 124 are all not available to use and for the structure and aesthetic only. So even though it has a great fame it’s not that efficient in meeting the people’s needs.

Comparing these two skyscrapers, the former was built in Hong Kong where theres a shortage of space, the latter was constructed as an iconic building in Dubai which has vasts areas to freely develop. These two skyscrapers contrast greatly and have different focus while being designed, this may be main reason that the International Commerce Centre is the main use and the Khalifa Tower’s design focused on its appearance.

To sum up, I still hold the view that every building should be designed for the user instead of focusing on the aesthetic, there should be checking design and plans rigorously before construction. So there is no doubt that it will decrease the possibility of wasting space and money. There should be a change in the position that us designers focus too much on the appearance and should be paying attention to its function and users.


  1. Graham, S. (2016). Vertical Cities, [Lecture]
  2. (2017). Burj Dubai | Structural Elements | Elevators, Spire & More. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Jan. 2017].
  3. (2017). Burj Khalifa – The Skyscraper Center. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Jan. 2017].
  4. Chicago, I. (2009). Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Leads Process for Art Program at Burj Dubai. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Jan. 2017].
  5. (2017). International Commerce Centre – The Skyscraper Center. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Jan. 2017].
  6. Jolly, A. (2013). Why do we build skyscrapers. [online] WHY DO. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jan. 2017].

Image Reference:

Figure 1: International Commerce Centre, taken from:;

Figure 2: Floor functions of International Commerce Centre, taken from:;

Figure 3: The 10 tallest vanity height in the world, taken from:;

Figure 4: The Khalifa Tower, taken from:;

Figure 5: Floor functions of  Khalifa Tower, taken from:










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