The sky has limits: In China, it's 250 metres for buildings in cities with a population of 3 million or more


Reuters reports that China has set limits on the heights of skyscrapers - no taller than 150 metres in cities with a population size of less than 3 million and a maximum height of 250 metres for buildings in cities with larger populations.

When I visited the Shanghai Tower in Shanghai (632 metres), I was less impressed with the view (a hazy spring day so not much visibility) than I was with the engineering of building so high and especially the elevator!

But although engineering can deliver ever higher buildings, there is increasing awareness that regulation is required to ensure safety.  Earlier this year, a 71 storey building in Shenzhen shook, the cause being a 50 metre mast on top of the building moving in the wind.

Chinese local government must also conduct checks on existing high-rise buildings for their foundations, structure, power and utility supplies, resistance to earthquakes and protection from fire.  Any residential building taller than 80 metres or public building taller than 100 metres must meet local firefighting standards.

The Building Safety Bill now proceeding through Parliament is a consequence of the fire at the high-rise Grenfell Tower in 2017.  The reforms in the Building Safety Bill are particularly focussed on high-rise residential buildings.  The new and more stringent building safety regime will apply to buildings which are at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys and have at least two residential units.  The government has published 29 factsheets which explain how elements of the new building safety regime will operate in practice.  My colleagues and I will be blogging about different aspects of the  Building Safety Bill (in its current form) in our "Building Blocks" series of articles .

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While China acknowledges that high-rise buildings promote more intensive use of land resources, it is increasingly concerned that local officials are blindly pursuing construction with little attention to practicality and safety.
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