With the latest generation of high-rise buildings reaching new heights of over 600 meters, the supertall construction boom is bringing new challenges as new projects are built higher, faster and with increasing complexity. As the (re)insurer of a number of the tallest buildings around the world, including the next building to hold the title of “world’s tallest”, the 1-kilometer high Kingdom Tower development in Jeddah, engineering insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) analyzes the challenges of assessing and managing such exceptional risks in its latest Supertall Buildings Risk Bulletin.
The growth of the world’s tallest buildings continues to accelerate in the 21st century as demonstrated by Dubai’s 828m-high Burj Khalifa, towering more than 300 meters over the previous highest building, Taiwan’s Taipei 101 (509 meters). As soon as 2019, these will in turn be dwarfed by Kingdom Tower which will be the first 1-kilometre tall building, ensuring the size of the tallest building in the world will have doubled in just 10 years.
By 2020, the average total height of the tallest 20 buildings in the world is expected to be close to 600 meters, comparable to almost two Eiffel Towers, made possible by a combination of new technologies, innovative building materials and creative design elements.
Construction shift east
Alongside the continuous race for record heights, a strong geographical construction shift east is taking place. While throughout the 20th century the US skyscraper dominance was undisputed, the vast majority of construction projects today are in China, South East Asia and the Middle East. Dubai alone is already home to 20% of the world’s tallest 50 buildings, while China boasts 30 of the tallest 100 buildings across 15 cities. Indeed, this month China announced initial plans for its own 1-kilometre tall building, the Phoenix Towers.
“The eastward trend is set to stay, driven by rapid economic and demographic growth, urbanization, strong investor appetite for flagship real estate assets and lower labor costs than in the traditional Western markets,“ explains Ahmet Batmaz, Global Head of Engineering Risk Consulting at AGCS.