Sky high: China is the skyscraper capital of the world

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Back to earth

China’s NDRC, the chief Chinese economic planning authority, has announced tougher national restrictions on constructing the sort of skyscrapers that have come to dominate the skyscape of many of the nation's biggest cities.

The new guidelines — if properly-enforced — would see new 500 meter (1640ft) constructions outlawed and the building of 250m (820ft) buildings severely restricted.

That's a dramatic departure in policy from the last few decades, which have seen China develop hundreds of dizzying modern monoliths in record times (like this 57-storey building that was built in 19 days).

Indeed, when it comes to tall buildings, China towers above competitors like the US and UAE, with more than 3 times as many structures that surpass 150 meters (492 feet). The country is home to 5 of the top 10 tallest buildings in the world and 38 of its cities currently occupy the top 100 table for total number of skyscrapers — Hong Kong alone has 546 buildings over 150m.

Whilst the steady stream of supertall structures has brought housing and economic benefits for a burgeoning middle class, the high-rise life in China has also created problems. Critics point to the pedestrian-unfriendly nature of some cities, the tendency for building works to go unfinished, and an incident in Shenzhen where the 984 foot SEG Plaza began to shake.

The new guidelines from the NDRC clearly have an eye on improving urban environments for the country's population, who now live in, or among, the country's 2,900+ skyscrapers.

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