Are China’s Future Tall Buildings About to Enter a New Age?

Francis Au
Country Head (Hong Kong & Macau)
Arcadis, Hong Kong

Greater China has experienced unprecedented economic growth, resulting in the development of some of the world’s tallest and most iconic buildings. Many view these engineering marvels as part of a local government strategy to put their cities on the map. However, the economic and political landscapes have shifted, impacting demand for space, funding and the commercial viability of many developments. Many even question if it is still politically acceptable for cities to pursue such iconic tall developments. Why build 80 stories when the cost of two 40-story buildings is known to be significantly cheaper and more efficient? Economic pressures present opportunities for the industry to innovate and adapt. Three important questions arise: 1) At what point does Chinese wage inflation and falling commodity prices push the industry to greater prefabrication? 2) How will low steel prices affect the height where steel becomes more viable than composite structures? 3) Will developers increase focus on whole-life-costs, sustainability?

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