According to New London Architecture's yearly survey of skyscrapers 20 stories or higher, London has 587 "tall buildings" in the works, with 310 awarded full planning clearance and 127 under consideration. Last year, 35 tower blocks were completed. The city is expected to add another 50 skyscrapers before 2030.
The capital needs more high-rise housing, but the government wants to limit new building heights to prevent more expensive apartments from being built. This policy has created a shortage of luxury flats and cost billions of dollars worth of projects. In response, some developers are bypassing the planning system by using pre-fabricated components instead of brick or concrete for their skyscrapers, which can be assembled in a matter of weeks instead of years.
The best known example is the so-called "London Orbital Development Site" (LODO), where BAA is constructing the 32-story Lutyens & Lander headquarters at Barlocker Road in South Kensington. The office block is made up of about 200,000 square feet of floor space that can be fitted out to suit different clients. It contains 7,500 square meters of rentable area and should be ready in late 2019 or early 2020.
Currently, London has just 33 skyscrapers (i.e., buildings 40 floors and over). The most apparent reason they were never built before is that London is built on clay. This did not provide a proper basis for the safe construction of skyscrapers until technology advanced in the 1960s. Also, the British government used regulation to prevent any one company from dominating the market by building too many high-rise offices.
Before the 1960s, the only way to increase the size of a city was through expansion. This usually meant either adding areas of town outside of the current city limits or improving existing areas inside the city limits. In the case of London, this meant making space for more office buildings near Victoria Station. However, due to the lack of space, these new buildings were not as tall as ones built in other cities.
After World War II, London's population increased dramatically, from 15 million to over 16 million people. This led to an increase in the need for office space, but there were still too many small offices being replaced with larger ones. A solution was found in the form of the skyscraper, but since London was built on ground that could not support such structures, they were banned. It wasn't until 1969 that the ban was lifted and the first skyscraper was erected in London - the Citigroup Center. Since then, several more have been built including One Canada Square which is considered Europe's tallest building outside of North America.
Buildings of 10 to 20 stories were nevertheless referred to as "skyscrapers" for many years. As building technology advanced, the minimum height for a skyscraper increased to 150 meters (492 feet). Today, the world's tallest building is the Shanghai Tower at 302 m (1,024 ft) tall.
The word "skyscraper" is used today to describe buildings that are taller than 50 meters (164 feet). The Empire State Building in New York City is the most famous skyscraper and it is 88 m (289 feet) tall. It was built in 1931-32 and has been called the world's greatest building since 1975 when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Tallest building in the United States is currently the Willis Tower in Chicago at 1,453 m (4,993 feet) tall.
The Aon Center in Chicago is currently the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with 493 m (1,611 feet) total height including spires. The previous record holder, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were estimated to be 401 m (1,310 feet) high.
It is difficult to determine the exact number of floors in a building because building owners do not disclose their floor plans. But it is safe to say that every skyscraper has hundreds of floors.
150-meter Buildings that ranged between 10 and 20 floors continued to be labeled as "skyscrapers" for years to come. As advances were made in construction, the qualifications to be considered a skyscraper grew to a 150-meter (492-foot) minimum. In 1972, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) was formed to provide guidance on building heights.
The first true skyscraper is generally agreed to be the Chrysler Building in New York City. Constructed from 1930 to 1931, it is 928 feet tall with 56 floors.
However, there are some buildings that claim to be true skyscrapers that do not meet the minimum height requirement of 150 meters. Two such buildings are the 797-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the 880-foot-tall Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, China. Both were completed in 1998 and both rank as the second tallest buildings in their respective cities behind only later constructions.
In addition, there are two other prominent buildings that reach close to 300 meters but do not meet the requirements of being a true skyscraper: The Pinnacle at 301 m (977 ft) and The Shard at 297 m (999 ft). Both are located in London.
The naming of buildings is often subjective and depends on what name gets attached to what kind of structure first.
As of June 2021, the United Kingdom had 137 habitable buildings (used for living and working in, as opposed to masts and religious use) at least 100 metres (330 ft) tall, with 107 in Greater London, 14 in Greater Manchester, 5 in Birmingham, 3 in Leeds, 2 each in Liverpool and Woking, and 1 in Brighton & Hove. This makes England one of the most skyscraper-friendly countries in the world.
There are three types of skyscraper: office towers, residential buildings, and hotels. England has several dozen office towers over 100 meters high, mostly in London.
England's first skyscraper was built in 1890 in Chicago. Today, there are more than 10,000 buildings over 100 meters in 42 countries around the world. The UK is one of the most prolific builders of skyscrapers, with 17 total structures. England's share of this activity is fairly even between London and Manchester.
The tallest building in England is currently the Shard in London, which is 324 meters high. It was completed in 2012 and has 32 floors above ground plus a basement level. The second highest is 120 Berkeley Street, which is also in London and has 12 floors above ground.