Space-wasting "vanity" skyscrapers


News: the world's vainest skyscrapers have been revealed in the latest report from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which reveals the unnecessary "vanity space" added to the top of the world's tallest buildings.

Of the top ten tallest buildings in the world at present (pictured), at least 27 percent of each structure is superfluous, according the report.

Without its 244-metre spire, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa - currently the tallest building on earth - would drop to a substantially smaller 585-metre height without any reduction in usable space. As the report states, the spire "could be a skyscraper on its own".

"We noticed in Journal 2013 Issue I's case study on Kingdom Tower, Jeddah, [currently under construction] that a fair amount of the top of the building seemed to be an unoccupied spire," reads the report. "This prompted us to explore the notion of 'vanity height' in supertall buildings, i.e. the distance between a skyscraper's highest occupiable floor and its architectural top, as determined by CTBUH Height Criteria."

Space-wasting vanity skyscrapers revealed
Vanity heights, organised by country, date of completion, and architectural height.

The Ukraina Hotel in Moscow, Russia, is revealed as the world's vainest skyscraper, with 42 percent of the building's 206-metre height identified as useless space. Meanwhile the vainest "supertall" building - a term given to structures over 300 metres - is identified as the 321-metre Burj Al-Arab in Dubai, whose curving spire makes up 39 percent of the overall height.

The report identifies the United Arab Emirates as the nation with the highest number of vain skyscrapers, with an average of 19 percent useless height across all of its tallest buildings. However it also contains the world's humblest skyscraper, as the 328-metre Index in Dubai has a vanity space of just four metres.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is the world's leading authority on the skyscrapers. Recent reports by the organisation have predicted the 20 tallest buildings in the world by the year 2020 and revealed the number of skyscrapers completed last year.

See more reports from the CTBUH »
See more stories about skyscrapers »

  • nether_k

    The male ego and the size of phallic objects… everyone wants to have the biggest phallus. The true lesson is that it’s not the size that matters but what you do with it, and clearly not much has been done besides sheer size.

  • Steve H

    Winner of the Most Flawed Premise of the Month Award. In what world is “space” measured in one dimension?

  • Lucy Hoodless

    Architects making up for smaller things!

  • Mumford

    “Of the top ten tallest buildings in the world at present (pictured)” …

    These are not the top 10 tallest buildings in the world. The Burj Al Arab is the 57th tallest building in the world.

    This article is poorly researched.

  • T. Caine

    Definitely a flawed study with a questionable representation. In more than one of those buildings, the “stuff” on top of occupiable floors is mechanical space that would be there whether or not there was a screen wall around it. That’s not the same as building mass into the sky for no reason.

    What is the “top ten of the world’s tallest buildings” supposed to mean as well? Those aren’t the top ten. They’re clearly just the ten that made for the best graphic.

  • Ultra_Orange

    Unless you are figuring by square meter of space this is meaningless. If I were to add a 200m radio mast to my house I wouldn’t be adding 200m of uninhabitable space.