Why do we build Skyscrapers?

Skyscrapers are buildings which house office, commercial or residential spaces and are built vertically up hundreds of floors as opposed to horizontally. This is done out of necessity in areas with less land or for the aesthetic quality. Building higher up is comparatively more expensive than building laterally, provided land is no issue, and most skyscrapers are residences which means that they would benefit from lower construction cost as that would result in a lower payback period and higher return on investment. Despite this, skyscrapers continue to be built worldwide, and continue to get taller. Skyscrapers have become a possibility due to advancements in engineering and construction technology, which allow us to build with stronger and lighter materials and use engineering techniques to support more weight. Building skyscrapers also require engineering and architectural expertise as well as specialised equipment and trained contractors to carry out the construction work. Construction at higher elevations require special equipment such as tower cranes and the use of scaffolding. Construction firms such as crane engineering services employ in-house cranes or are able to rent them until the construction completes. But all this begs the question of why we even build skyscrapers, especially in places where land area is not an issue. This article goes over the reasons for an against building skyscrapers.

Land use

This is the main, and from certain points of view, the only reason to build skyscrapers. Countries with limited land, or urban areas which high population densities often turn to skyscrapers to cater to their increasing demand for housing. Skyscrapers allow for more usable floor area per land area used but are more expensive in every other metric. There is, however, no alternative to this in areas with scarce land.


Building skyscrapers take specialised equipment and personnel. Engineers, architects, and contractors specialising in skyscraper construction are expensive to consult and the actual construction more so. The higher a building is built, the higher its cost per usable floor area. They are also more expensive in terms of energy use. Studies have found that a building with greater than twenty floors use over twice as much energy per square metre than a building with fewer than twenty floors. Concerning the energy use, however, greener methods of building can be employed for skyscrapers with more emphasis on natural lighting and ventilation as well as making use of the greater surface area to generate solar energy.


Although cities with limited space make use of skyscrapers, there is another problem associated with them that doesn’t help with the issue. Building a residential skyscraper means to concentrate thousands of people in that location, which means that the area will need schools, shopping centres, public transport terminals etc. to be a hub for civilisation. If the skyscraper hosts office space, the area should expect heavy traffic during office hours, and not much traffic during the other times of the day. Therefore, planning a city around a skyscraper is difficult if land is an issue.

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