(L-R) Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Centre and Shanghai Tower (image: commons.wikimedia.org)

As the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) announces the world’s 100th supertall building, and Shanghai Tower is named the second tallest building in the world, we look at how China is getting taller and taller.

Shanghai Tower is an engineering marvel. Standing an incredible 632 meters tall, it’s the tallest building in China, located in Shanghai’s PuDong district - which bristles with other famous structures like the Oriental Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Tower.

This burst of tall building shows no signs of slowing - 6 of the ten tallest buildings planned for 2016 are located in the country: The Ping Ang Finance Center, Goldin Finance 117 in Tianjin, the CTF Finance Centre in Guangzhou, the Wuhan Centre, and Eton Place Dalian Tower 1.

Structural engineers are at the forefront of this explosion of tall building, using emerging technologies, materials and practice to make buildings stand taller, matching China’s amazing growth.

Look at the CTBUH's “Skyscraper Center” database and you soon realise quite what an explosion of tall buildings engineers have helped create, particularly in terms of supertall construction.

From 2010 to 2015, 27 buildings over 300 meters tall were completed in China – compared to 3 in the United States over the same period, and 5 in Europe. The only area of similar construction was the Middle East, where 19 buildings over 300 meters tall were constructed, spread across Dubai, Kuwait City, Mecca and Riyadh.

The growth spurt is remarkable by China’s own standards – 11 supertall buildings had been erected in China’s entire history up to 2009, and 5 of those were located in Hong Kong.

Still, China’s dominance in supertalls may be coming under threat. 8 Chinese supertall buildings are listed as ‘proposed’ on the Skyscraper Centre up to 2020, but 10 are planned for the United States. However, this is very much a New York phenomenon – a full 8 will be located in the city, where China’s plans stretch across 6 locations.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure: structural engineers will play a leading role designing the supertalls of the future.


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