China #1 for Skyscrapers Completed in 2018 and It's Not Even Close

By Edoardo Donati Fogliazza, December 26, 2018

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While worries about the possible explosion of China’s real estate bubble have not quieted in the past year, the country doesn’t seem willing to give up its steel-and-concrete dreams anytime soon. On the contrary, China’s construction craze seems to be reaching up to the sky. 

According to report recently released by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the PRC topped the charts for the number and height of newly-built skyscrapers (and it’s not even close). CTBUH’s study, titled ‘Year in Review: Tall Trends of 2018,’ highlights that, this year, China accounted for 61.5 percent of the world’s newly-constructed 200-meter-plus tall buildings.

With 88 completions in 2018, China broke its own 2016 record, when it completed 86 new buildings 200 meters tall or taller. The US came in at a distant second with 13 completions, a small increase from 10 in 2017.

As the graph above shows, China completed more skyscrapers in the past 12 months than the other nine countries on the top 10 list put together. Graph via the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

This year, China also built some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. The world’s tallest building completed this year, at 528 meters, is Beijing’s Citic Tower, one of the city’s new landmarks located in the CBD. It’s also presently the world’s eighth-tallest building. 

Other Chinese high-rises to make the list are Changsha’s IFS Tower (third place at 452 meters), Shenzhen’s China Resources Tower and Nanning’s Logan Century 1, which came in fourth and fith place respectively.

Beijing's new Citic Tower is the tallest skyscraper completed in 2018. Image via 我是一只好色的小懒猫/Weibo

The report seems to tell the story of China’s real estate development. 2018 represents the 23rd year in a row in which China topped the CTBUH list, mirroring the continuous growth of the real estate market in the PRC since 1998, when the government allowed for the privatization of housing.

For the third year in a row, Shenzhen proved to be a real estate haven and one of the country’s fastest growing areas. The southern city built the world’s largest number of new skyscrapers, with 14 completions. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Shenzhen’s high-flying ambitions already attracted attention earlier this month, when a new plan for the construction of a 700-meter tower in the city’s Luohu District – that upon completion would become the world’s second-tallest building – sparked heated debate on the need to preserve one of the city’s historical areas.

READ MORE: Shenzhen Completed More Skyscrapers in 2016 than Entire US

But while the sky seems to be the limit in Shenzhen, the brand-new Citic Tower might be Beijing’s business district’s last super-tall building, as the city issued a new 180-meter cap on the height of new buildings in the area last April, while planning to cap its population at 23 million by 2020.

Still, the nation’s capital might not be the only Chinese city to see a decrease in new super-tall structures. The CTBUH report cautions that the country’s dominance in the world of skyscrapers might be threatened by the recent spike in tariffs, especially the ones targeting steel. Also, while the CTBUH attributes China’s dominance in the field to the fact that most projects are realized by state-owned enterprises or with substantial government support, it also signals that the the country’s infatuation with tall buildings might wither as the government strives to control spending and rein-in prodigal provinces. 

READ MORE: Beijing Authorities Issue Height Limit on CBD Skyscrapers

China’s real estate process has been steadily rising together with the country’s skyscrapers in recent years, as prices-per-square-meter in top-tier cities fly through the roof. So much so that, earlier this month, Zhengquan Shibao – People’s Daily’s financial news outlet – published a report where it listed nine property developments each valued at more than RMB100 billion, with Guangzhou, Huizhou and Beijing neighborhoods at the top of the list.

Since last summer, though, the government has taken drastic measures to control housing prices. According to Mingtiandi, these have since started growing at a slower rate since the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) released a note pledging a “special management of the market chaos,” thus setting out to restrict developers’ financing options and cracking down on rule-breakers.

While the country’s real estate market will have to deal with the challenges ahead, China remains the world’s skyscraper kingdom. At least for now.

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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