Last edited 02 Jan 2020

Tall building


There is no established definition of what constitutes a ‘tall building’, instead there are several different criteria that typically determine whether a building can be considered to be tall.

Firstly, it is important to consider the urban context of the building. If a 10-storey building is in a central business district (CBD), for example, surrounded by high-rise buildings of 20-storeys, then it may not be considered particularly tall. However, if a 10-storey building is in a suburban area that is predominantly low-rise, it would be considered to be a tall building.

Secondly, it can also be dependent on proportion. Buildings that are not particularly tall in terms of number of storeys can considered ‘tall’ if they are slender. Whereas, a building that is relatively tall but has a large footprint (such as a ‘groundscraper’) may not be considered ‘tall’.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) defines a ‘supertallbuilding as one that is more than 300 m (984 ft) in height. This classification is exceeded by ‘megatallbuildings which are those exceeding 600 m (1,968 ft) in height.

The more general term ‘skyscraper’ refers to tall, continuously habitable buildings of 40 floors or more.

Other definitions include:

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