Building Blocks Series 5: So, what is a Skyscraper?

11 Mar

If you are a regular blog reader (if not, why not!) you will have noticed we love all things tall and made of glass. What probably sprang to your mind at that description was a Skyscraper. Yes, the next blog in our Building Blocks series is all about those very tall, edifices that seem to get ever taller in the race to be the tallest.

So what is a skyscraper? This is Wikipedia’s definition:

‘A skyscraper is a tall, continuously habitable building of many stories usually designed for office and commercial use.’

But we know they are much more than that.

If a building is taller than the buildings around it and changes the look of the skyline, it can be described as a Skyscraper.

We see them everywhere around us in our cities where the land is very expensive and there is not much left! As you can imagine the skyscraper can offer a lot of floor space on a very small plot of land so are generally very economical.

It was rare to see very tall buildings before the 19th Century because people didn’t like all those steps.
When skyscrapers began to be built of steel and glass, and the advent of the elevator, there was no going back.

The tallest skyscraper to date is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, standing at 829.8m, which was completed in 2009.

Of course, there are some other things to be considered apart from the height.
Skyscrapers have to be very tough and survive strong winds, earthquakes and the biggest danger, fire. These sorts of problems make the designing of skyscrapers very complex but once built they are very hardwearing. The Empire State Building which we featured in a previous blog was built in 1931 and is still in use today, over 80 years later.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

Modern skyscrapers can be designed to be very energy efficient. 30 St Mary Axe in London or as you will probably know it, The Gherkin, uses half the energy of a similar building. Amazingly, despite its unique shape, the Gherkin has only one piece of curved glass at the very top.

The Gherkin

The Gherkin

They can even be entered in to their very own competition. One of the entries in the The Emporis Skyscraper Award 2012, a 41 storey skyscraper in Cincinnati, USA, was inspired by a tiara worn by Princess Diana. It didn’t win but was named one of the top ten skyscrapers in the world.

There are so many amazing skyscrapers throughout the world’s cities that we just don’t know which one we like the best. If we have given you the skyscraper bug we did find this website that is just great to browse as it is full of brilliant photos.

Let us know which is your favourite skyscraper. Maybe we should take a poll


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