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Tall trend set to shrink soon

The world's skyscrapers are getting taller, despite the global recession, new research has revealed – but ultra-high projects are expected to tail off soon

According to the international research group Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the average height of the top ten tallest buildings completed in 2008 rose to 319 metres – 31 metres above the previous highest average, set in 1998.

The council went on to say that the 'most successful year of skyscraper construction ever’ looks set to be repeated in 2009 and 2010, with the completion of the Burj Dubai (over 800 metres), the Makkah Clock Royal Tower in Saudi Arabia (577 metres) and Dubai Towers in Doha (414 metres). The study concluded the unusual mismatch between increasing height and the gloomy economic outlook is due to the five to 10-year lead-time on ‘supertall’ buildings.

However, the outlook for the medium term is bleak. The CTUBH suggests that the Burj Dubai will remain the world’s tallest building until 2020, due to the uncertain future of many proposed schemes. Heights are expected to drop until 2017.

The organisation has also looked at changing trends in building tall. In 1990, 80 per cent of the 100 tallest buildings were in North America but by 2010, only 22 percent will be American, due to a surge in construction in Asia and the Middle East. Construction methods and typology have also shifted: from steel frame office blocks to concrete residential/mixed use towers.

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