The number of ‘Megatall’ towers in the Middle East is likely to increase within the next decade, says EC Harris a global Built Asset Consultancy.
Economic power, space limitations, and relaxed planning regimes, all conspire to empower developers to build taller towers.
‘Megatall: What does it take?’ — is a study by program and project managers commissioned by EC Harris which reveals that economic power and wealth, alongside limitations on space, are the key drivers behind the increase in construction of Megatall towers. This is particularly so in the Middle East where the prospering confidence of the UAE and Saudi Arabia is reflected in their emergent skylines.
A ‘Megatall’ skyscraper is technically defined as one which reaches more than 600m high.
Four-out-of-ten of the world’s tallest buildings are currently located in Asia’s economic powerhouse, China — but Dubai is storming ahead with three of the world’s four tallest buildings to be built here alongside the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.
Although the 2014 opening of China’s Sky City will reach higher than the Burj, its crown will soon be taken by the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia. Due for completion in 2019, the Kingdom Tower will dominate the world’s Megatall towers, rising to 1000m; just over three times the size of The Shard – the UK’s tallest building.
Economic power is not the only force driving the Megatall trend. In contrast to mature markets in the West, where planning governance has a significant impact in controlling building height, a much more relaxed planning regime in the Middle East is empowering developers to reach for the skies. This allows for the demand for housing, office, retail and leisure space from cities with high population growth rates to be met, especially where land is scarce.
Terry Tommason; “There is an undeniable correlation between economic growth, confidence and power and the rise of the Megatall’building. Historically, North America signalled its economic dominance by building tall but its mantle was over taken by Asian economies, particularly China, when the economic balance of power moved east. Now, the Middle East, with its booming economy, is set to shift the balance once again.
Conceiving and delivering a Megatall structure is, however, unlike any other building challenge; it is truly unique. It requires many factors to be taken into consideration by both developers and investors to ensure a safe and efficient structure is delivered, within time and on budget.
The construction market in the Middle East has continually shown this tenacity and expertise in the last decade or so, which, combined with its economic growth, is why it is now taking the lead in outstripping the West in terms of ‘Megatall’ buildings. With the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia due for completion in the next six years and economies in the Middle East continuing to grow, there is no sign of this trend toward the ‘Megatall’ slowing.” — Terry Tommason, Head of Property, Middle East at EC Harris
Photo: Daniel Cheong (used with permission)