Since the turn of the century, the average size of buildings in global cities has increased exponentially. According to a report from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats (CTBUH), 84% of buildings over 200m tall were built after 2000, and in particular following the global impact of the catastrophic terror attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001.
CTBUH has upgraded its definition of ‘tall buildings’ throughout this period, with 200 m+ building referred to as ‘tall’, 300 m+ as ‘supertall’ and 600 m+ as ‘mega tall’. The fast increase in the height and number of tall buildings is an evolving challenge for the design and regulation of cityscapes.
We examine how this trend is impacting on Australia’s urban habitats, as well as analyse the challenges for airspace regulation.
Growth of Australia’s skyscrapers
Tall buildings in cities have been historically driven by increasing urbanisation in major cities and the maximisation of commercial space in central business districts. One of the most iconic tall buildings in Australia, the Centrepoint Tower in Sydney, turns 40 this year.
As at April 2021, the five tallest buildings in Australia were:
1. Q1 – Gold Coast: 322.5m;
2. Australia 108 – Melbourne: 316.7m;
3. Eureka Tower – Melbourne: 297.3m;
4. Crown Sydney – Sydney: 271.3m;
5. Aurora Melbourne Central – Melbourne: 270.5m.
Against CTBUH’s metric for tall buildings, Australia currently has 2 ‘supertall’ buildings.
The Urban Taskforce, a non-profit organisation representing prominent Australian property developers In the urban design history, has called for a future full of skyscrapers in the Sydney CBD skyline. By doing so, it states the city would maintain its reputation as a global hub going forward, as domestic counterpart cities in Melbourne are proposing taller buildings to lift their global standing.
An example of the design schematics proposed by Urban Taskforce designer Richard Francis-Jones is displayed below, with proposed high-rise developments within the solar access plane, with the development contributing to ancillary features such as green parks across the Harbour Bridge.