In a world of ever-reducing space, a skyscraper is an efficient way to create homes and offices without too large a footprint. It is interesting, then, that so many skyscrapers are full of hot air. In the race for the biggest buildings, architects have fallen back on antennae and pointed spires – with the result that skyscrapers are not so much efficient uses of space, but overblown vanity projects.
Take the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s impressive at 828 metres tall, but nearly a third of that (29%) is unoccupiable, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The Burj al Arab, also in Dubai, is much worse in this respect, with 39% of the entire building unusable. In fact, Dubai has five towers listed as the tallest buildings in “vanity height” – unusable height for the sake of it. Across these five, some 31% of total space is completely wasted.