Why aren’t there many skyscrapers in Europe?
Despite being one of the most developed,
densely populated and economically prosperous continents
Europe has surprisingly few skyscrapers
particularly when compared to Asia and North America
Of the 218 skyscrapers constructed on the continent to date
66 % of them are located in just five cities
London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow and Istanbul.
伦敦 巴黎 法兰克福 莫斯科和伊斯坦布尔
So why have other major European cities not embraced the skyscraper?
How do they thrive without the significant inner-urban space and floor areas
that these clever structures provide?
And is everything about to change
in our increasingly urbanised world?
When skyscrapers first rose to prominence in the 19th Century
first in Chicago and later in New York
many European cities were already firmly established
with grand historic buildings and public spaces
that left little room for large new structures
Most of Europe’s cities around that time were also more evenly zoned
and were not facing the high demand for floor space in key districts
that typically drives high rise development
Additionally, as the power and influence of North America began to grow
a cultural rivalry emerged between Americans
who saw Europe’ s class system as outdated
and Europeans who saw some American ideals
as eroding traditions and the European way of life
As a result each continent became wary of adopting the others’ concepts
While North America aimed to become the model for a new age,
Europe sought to preserve its heritage
While this explains why skyscraper construction didn’t initially catch on in Europe,
it doesn’t explain what has held the continent back since.
In the wake of the Second World War
many thought European cities would modernise
and replicate the skyscrapers that were rising across North America.
However, in westen Europe – where many cities lost landmark and historic structures
an overwhelming desire to restore what had been destroyed took hold.
In addition, the lower population of Europe at that time
meant that the demand for floor area
that principally drives skyscraper construction wasn’t there.
As a result,modest structures replaced buildings that could not be saved or restored.
Meanwhile,in Eastern Europe,
the expanding Soviet Union’s rebuild effort
consisted largely of mid-rise repetitive structures
that sought to rehouse much of the population.
It was during this time that Europe saw its first skyscrapers begin to rise
not in response to growth and prosperity
but in an effort by the Soviets to indicate their power and influence
While Brussels has never constructed a true skyscraper
it is partly responsible for the lack of skyscrapers across the continent
Without any significant zoning regulations in place
the 1960s saw many buildings in the city demolished
to make way for large modern structures
that had little regard for architectural or cultural value.
Recognising the damage this indiscriminate redevelopment was doing to the city
many prominent figures and architects coined the term “ Brusselization ”
and lobbied to introduce new planning rules
These regulations significantly limited the scale of new buildings
and required historic facades to be restored
and incorporated into new developments preserving the cultural fabric of the city.
The row in Brussels led to a general dislike for modern buildings across Europe
with many seeing them as bland or soulless
In response, numerous cities adopted similar regulations and set aside controlled districts
like Paris’La Defence to keep high-rise development away from historic centres.
By the start of the 21st Century
attitudes around tall buildings were softening across the continent
as architectural trends moved away from box-like structures toward more unique designs
and as the world became increasingly globalised.
Since the early 2000s,
major financial centres like London, Paris,
伦敦 巴黎 莫斯科 伊斯坦布尔和
Moscow, Istanbul and Frankfurt
have seen several skyscrapers rise
as demand for commercial space in their centres has increased.
By contrast, smaller European cities that have experienced more modest growth
have turned their focus to the environment and improving living standards for citizens.
In recent years, urban areas in Scandinavia and Central Europe
have consistently ranked among the highest in the world for sustainability, happiness and well-being
while maintaining importance within their national economies.
However, skyscraper construction in the cities of today
is no longer driven purely by economic growth or the need for commercial office space
With 60 % of the global human population set to be living in urban areas by 2030
residential skyscrapers are now rising in prominence
particularly across Asia and North America
As many traditional rural-based industries become automated
millions are migrating into cities and major urban areas
driving significant demand for residential space that is often met with high-rise structures
Europe is not immune to this phenomenon
particularly in such a heavily globalised world
and with the continent’s desire to keep up with the progress and economic growth of China and the US
As such, Europe could witness a skyscraper boom in the decades ahead
However, with entire urban centres now being declared historically significant
and with the desire to retain as much culture and architecture as possible
rightly holding strong up to the present day
the unique challenge facing future skyscraper construction in Europe
is all to do with the past.
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Why aren’t there many skyscrapers in Europe?