China’s top economic planning authority doesn’t want the country’s buildings to get any taller.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said the country will no longer approve plans to build skyscrapers that exceed 500 meters to “strengthen the management of infrastructure projects.” Meanwhile, it will also “strictly restrict” the construction of new buildings over 250 meters, while tightening safety instructions for projects over 100 meters that have yet to be constructed.
“The management of some projects remains too lax, and the relevant regulations are not being implemented, resulting in the decline in project quality and an increase in safety risks,” the NDRC said in a notice published Tuesday.
China is home to some of the world’s tallest buildings, and had 1,938 buildings over 100 meters as of April 2020, according to state news agency Xinhua. Five of the structures rise above 500 meters, with the Shanghai Tower, standing at 632 meters, being the second-tallest building in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
Buildings over 100 meters are considered “supertall” buildings in the country. The Baiyun Hotel in the southern city of Guangzhou, measuring 117 meters and built ahead of the Canton Fair in 1976, was the country’s first building to exceed 100 meters.
The NDRC’s announcement came less than two months after a high-rise in the southern city of Shenzhen swayed, causing panicked workers inside to flee. Authorities have since evacuated the 356-meter-high building, which was built in the 1990s, and imposed entry restrictions while an investigation is undertaken to determine the cause of the incident.
An associate professor, surnamed Chen, at the college of civil engineering and architecture at Zhejiang University, said several facets must be taken into consideration — such as security, cost, and energy consumption — before the construction of such “supertall” buildings.
“From a technical perspective, tall buildings always require super-strong materials, otherwise the height and weight can’t be supported,” Chen told Sixth Tone. “The higher the building, the less earthquake-resistant it becomes. Thus, it costs a lot to meet the aseismatic needs of these high-rise buildings.”
Additional reporting: Zhuge Rongrong; editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: People Visual)