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Burj Khalifa: The view from Manchester

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Maybe it’s down to the city’s famous grey skies, but you can always count on a Mancunian to bring a certain gloom to proceedings

When the world’s tallest building, the 828m-tall Burj Khalifa, opened last week, Channel 4 called upon Manchester-based skyscraper architect Ian Simpson to comment. ‘It would be rather nice if it was a beautiful building, but it’s not – it’s rather mundane,’ he said. Then, laying in the boot, Simpson added: ‘It doesn’t have any language to it architecturally… the shape is rather dull.’

So it’s official: the Burj is ugly, but Simpson’s Beetham Tower in Manchester (shown above) is not.

Actually more elegant is his elbow-shaped tower by London’s Blackfriars Bridge - rather more elegant than the financial situation of his developer client, Beetham, which has just had its accounts qualified and is now dependent on financial partners to keep the project going.

The real point about the Burj is its height, which was scarcely discussed. It’s so high that some construction workers toiling at the top of the tower needed help to overcome their nerves. They took Valium.

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