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The Role of High-Rise Buildings in Countries Progression


The current generations are living in a contemporary world that is characterized by sustainable development as the main foundation for decisions regarding urban planning in many countries. The pressure arising from the surging populations among other problems that are related to transport and housing facilities are some of the major issues facing the global populations today. The current high rates of the population have become a major global issue which stands out among the most crucial issues that have progressively raised great interest and concern from policymakers around the world. However, in the midst of all these crises, the fast advancing trend of high-rise buildings may be a promising hope to the big issue of surging human numbers in the urban centers facing the world presently. The increasing density rates in urban centers pose serious effects on humanity in terms of essential resources and facilities such as housing. In this regard, the idea of high-rise accommodation around developing regions is inevitable in dealing with the surging demographics. Today, there is nothing that can be said about the urban housing planning in our towns and cities without mentioning anything to do with the current trend of high-rise buildings and the role they play in countries’ progression and development.

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Sometimes, the term ‘skyscraper’ is used to refer to tall architectural structures constructed with the intention of accommodating people in towns and cities. However, there has been a big misunderstanding in the usage of ‘skyscrapers’ and ‘high-rise’ while referring to tall buildings. In most cases, both skyscrapers and high-rise buildings are used synonymously to refer to tall buildings irrespective of the number of flats or floors contained in those buildings. However, there is a significant difference in the concept behind the two building styles which may tend to vary from place to place. The truth of the matter here is that even though the two terms would refer to almost the same thing, they differ slightly in their meanings. High-rise buildings are multi-storey buildings that exceed the maximum height which people can easily climb manually, thus requiring the use of upward mechanical transportation.

Skyscrapers, on the other hand, are tall, slender multi-storey erections exceeding other buildings in height, which are constructed in big cities either singly or in groups. Unlike other multistory structures, skyscrapers are super-tall structures constructed in the shape of huge towers protruding the skylines. Both skyscrapers and high-rise buildings are designed in such a way that they are able to allow for internal town and city development while still offering accommodation to higher population densities in the urban centers (Lau 534). However, apart from the diverse benefits, these would bear to the issue of surging global populations, high-rise projects are important in representing a country’s progression and economic power. High-rise buildings of all nature are viewed as symbols of the dominance and success of particular countries over their neighbors. In most cases, this modern trend of housing is also viewed as a beacon of economic strength and pride and therefore, can be an outstanding symbol of modernity and inequality for some countries.

The History of Skyscrapers and High-rise buildings

Ever since their inception, high-rise buildings and skyscrapers have always fascinated people all over the world. The erection of such buildings was common in ancient times for either religious or defensive reasons. Churches of Roman origin and mosques, among other religious structures would previously dominate the skylines of many cities in parts of Europe, America, Africa and the Middle East. In the modern era, the erection of such structures is observed to have begun in the second half of the nineteenth century. As indicated in the above observations, both skyscrapers and high-rise refer differently to tall buildings depending on the shape, height and number of in-build storeys. For instance, skyscrapers would differ from high-rise buildings in that they normally consist of a steel frame to which the entire structure is attached. High-rise buildings, on the other hand, are just like any other conventional buildings structurally, except that they are made into storeys. In that case, both the skyscraper and high-rise buildings were not built at the same time. The first high-rise buildings in the world occurred somewhere in Rome at around 455 BC as a brilliant idea of urban planners and modernist architects who tried to make good utilization of land in densely populated areas. However, the coming of a true skyscraper was made possible in the subsequent attempts of trying to adopt newer adventurous technologies in the high-building style. Eventually, with the erection of the monadnock in Chicago in the year 1891, America would ultimately emerge as the birthplace of the skyscraper.

Technology and scientific innovations played a significant role in the adverse of these architectural designs and with time, the erection of tall buildings would become much possible following the invention of lifts and the availability of abundant constructing materials. Another significant aspect enabling developers to go for new building heights was the use of steel or iron construction techniques, which proved to be a more convenient way of construction. Out of the zeal for greater architectural discoveries, developers had continued to design and erect buildings that were exceptionally too high for their time (Domosh 237). Towers continued to protrude the skylines with the advancement of new architectural techniques and designs till a height of sixty storeys was finally reached in the year 1913 following the erection of the Woolworth building in New York City. The year 1931 stood out as the golden age for high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, following the successful construction of a 102 storey landmark; the Empire State Building.

High-rise buildings, once almost known to be exclusively a North-American housing culture, have spread to other countries across the world at a very alarming rate. The number of buildings exceeding 200 meters in height all over the world is noted to have multiplied rapidly over the last few decades. Considering their exceptional presence in the environment where they are erected, these types of buildings would tend to have a significant sight advantage, owing to their height, presence and dominance over other features within a particular area. As we all know, these magnificent architectural exhibitions normally play a big role in forming a panoramic view of the regions hosting them, thus according them a beautiful appearance.

Development of High-rise building

The current dramatic surge of a high-rise buildings is observed to have been fueled by numerous global pressures and motivations. Even though the idea would initially come as a result of a progressive architectural adventure, it was also triggered by a number of other significant factors. For instance, the global human population was observed to go up as the world went through a rapid phase of development in various sectors. This would lead to congestion in urban communities in some Western and European countries. The adverse effects here would be realized in the wake of incessant pressures as people scrabbled for space around urban sectors with the intention of utilizing the diverse social benefits associated with these locations. These population pressures were among the major impacts that fueled the evolution and development of High-rise buildings in some cities and towns. Another common factor behind the building technology was the restriction of random construction that was observed in cities and towns situated adjacent to forests and agricultural lands.

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The high cost of establishing infrastructure for rising urban centers due to expensive prices of land was also another factor contributing to the erection of high-rise buildings and towers. Even though costly, the idea of high-rise buildings construction was observed to be more economical and efficient in utilizing land. The facilities were also seen as features of pride and success and thus, they would be raised with the objective of expressing the progress and/or civilization of countries or cities. Some major cities and developing towns would compete in hosting the tallest towers on earth which could be used in announcing the stability of their economies. According to historical facts, some governments and political leaders have always anticipated the idea of leaving behind recognizable marks on the urban landscapes of the countries they represent by launching tall buildings and towers (Helleman and Wassenberg 8). A good example here can be seen in Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, Mohammad Mahathir’s bid to support the idea of his government to come up with one of the tallest high-rise structures on earth. This would see the successful construction of the ‘Petronas Towers’ which is no doubt the world’s tallest occupied building, standing at 88 storeys above the ground in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Presently, this magnificent landmark serves as a symbol of Malaysia’s venture into the list of the major global economies.

The impact and benefits of the trend in countries’ development

There have been much debate over the benefits and the cost associated with the technology of high-rise building. The disadvantages associated with these architectural trends may be immense but are obviously incomparable to the benefits coming along with the trend when it comes to the role the structures play in the progress of a country. High-rise buildings and skyscrapers are major distinctive features of big urban centers all over the world and therefore, they are a certain reflection of the heightening impact of urbanization and globalization in countries’ progression. The exterior shape and height of the buildings make up the impressions that people would tend to have of the urban centers (Douglas 56). Tall buildings and skyscrapers would normally tend to punctuate a city’s skyline while the many services at the street level on the base add texture and feel to the grain of the town in a lively manner.

Tall buildings are features of progression and development in places where they are situated and in most cases, they would have a great impact on their surroundings in many ways. Even though they are figures of constant critique, high-rise residential and business buildings are viewed as symbols of national and civic pride whose progressive development has continued to impress developers, architectures and politicians all over the world. As a matter of fact, the progress and advancement of countries can only be achieved through effective urban planning progress where the idea of the high-rise buildings has been considered. In this case, the trend is likely to encourage and bring technological success by making maximum utilization of the latest systems and materials. More importantly, the projects would tend to bring different people together and close to each other in a compact way, thus aiding in the progress economically through trade.

High-rise building projects are big promoters of urbanization and their erection in upcoming urban centers plays a significant role in the overall progression of the region and the surrounding environment. The erection of such structures within a particular area is known to come with much glory and power and this could influence and accentuate the abilities of other surrounding regions to come up with similar features in their towns. Urbanization takes place owing to the multiplication in density and extent of urban centers. The population density in urban areas is likely to go up as people relocate to more developed regions from less industrialized areas in search of greener pastures. Employment opportunities and better living standards are observed to be some of the common reasons behind these urban relocations. If not controlled, these practices can result in urban sprawls, meaning that access to infrastructure and basic services in the urban areas becomes extremely difficult for many people. Housing and accommodation facilities are some of the basic requirements whose access is likely to remain a matter of struggle for the masses when things turn out this way. However, High-rise residential flats and apartments within and around these regions serve as a convenient refuge for the multiplying populations.

Both the developed and developing urban centers are known to be places where money and wealth can be centralized easily. The regions offer certain opportunities which may be lacking in other places and this makes them a target for many people from upcountry who are on the lookout for ways to earn a living (Peace and Holland 77). Most companies and industries are situated in urban centers compared to the rural areas where opportunities are limited. For these compelling reasons, people in the less industrialized regions have always opted to seek refuge in the urban centers where opportunities come easily for everyone. The high-rise dwelling remains a reliable option for the surging populations thus helping to control human congestion in those regions. Though urbanization is known to bear adverse effects, its overall benefits cannot be underestimated as far as countries’ progression is concerned. Below is a summary of some of the benefits that are certain to be realized as a result of urbanization.


As we all know, access to social services such as health, education and cultural activities is ever available for people in the urban centers compared to those in less industrialized regions. Lifestyle in the developed regions is much more comfortable, sophisticated and advanced compared to the nature of living in less developed areas. As if this was not enough, urban zones characterized by high-rise buildings as the most common housing style, are linked up with advanced transport and communication networks to serve the populations. The biggest convenience with this trend is that residents don’t have to bother themselves with activities of furnishing the surroundings of their houses for the management of their building facilities takes care of everything. This guarantees people time for other things thus contributing to the progress and development of the regions.

Social Interaction

As a result of urbanization, people of various religions and castes would be living and working together in towns and cities. This influences interactions by establishing harmony and understanding between people, therefore, helping to break down cultural and social barriers.

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Educational Facilities

It goes without saying that learning institutions such as universities, colleges and schools of all levels are highly concentrated in the urban areas than in any other region of any particular country. As it would be expected, this high concentration of facilities and resources in the urban areas would tend to go up as the human population in those regions continue to rise.

It is the responsibility of urban planning to make all comforts and amenities available to the general public in towns and cities. Some of these plans however are implemented through the high-rise housing projects as part of urban planning in ensuring that adequate facilities and infrastructure are easily available for the support of the population. The convenient location of these types of residences near or within the urban centers helps at improving the effective provision of the essential services needed by the people. Apart from being a promising hope and solution to the urban sprawls currently witnessed in most countries, the building style is also beneficial in upholding considerable levels in the preservation of the environment around our urban centers. This is evident in modern building scenarios where high-rise architectural designs are used in the development of cities and towns thus helping in minimizing space requirements needed to establish low-rise residential facilities. Through this economical utilization of land, the trend saves our ecosystems and forests by reducing the rate of suburban sprawl around urban centers thus promoting a better environment for humans and the wildlife.

In some countries such as Japan, Israel and France the regulation of the impact of the development of tall buildings is viewed to be crucial for the preservation of the existing heritage of urban centers, especially the cities. Hatched out from the combination of modern technological advancements and the newer styles in architectural experimentation, modern high-rise buildings are made into magnificent shapes and structures. This cultural approach has always provided a strong basis for the development of these regions in many ways. Today, people all over the world can’t stop marveling at the magnificent, almost magical touch of architecture which has continued to greet the world every day with newer features. Of course, we have all heard of how magnificent high-rise buildings and skyscrapers have turned out as historical hallmarks in some countries owing to cultural-historic context and heritage-related reasons.

High-rise structures, whether it is independent or a cluster of buildings, are iconic as landmarks. However, let alone the magnificence in high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, the trend has always been a big attraction for lovers of architecture. (Leiper and Park 345). In big cities such as New York, high-rise structures, skyscrapers and towers are big tourist attractions and people from all over the world would tour the regions for adventure and sightseeing. This could be a big beacon of economical developments and progression, not only for New York but every other urban region that has embraced the trend of a high-rise buildings as part of their urban planning strategy. Different businesses and organizations tend to come up easily where the human population and the rate of high-rise buildings are high. For instance, big offices and world-famous stage theatres, movies theatres, luxury condominiums, restaurants and hotels are put up around or within super-high-rise buildings. This is certainly enough to justify the big role played by high-rise buildings in the progress of countries.

Apart from the big convenience associated with tall apartment buildings, the trend has also had a considerable impact on the overall planning of cities and other urban regions (Maddy 103). Construction of high-rise buildings follows systematic architectural planning and standards which offers an admirable plan of urban regions while providing for urban compactness of populations in a limited space of land. This is likely to play a big role in the metropolitan planning of any city by minimizing congestion of housing facilities on the ground, thus creating space for more beneficial infrastructures. According to Gaubatz, the trend of a high-rise building is important to a region’s development in that, it minimizes the problem of human congestion and traffic jams in towns (1495). Transport and communications services also tend to be more efficient in regions characterized by high-rise buildings compared with other low-rise buildings bearing the same base footage. More importantly, services of transport are limitless in those regions and people can just walk for short distances before reaching their favorite entertainment and recreational zones. In this way, human necessity to travel is highly controlled thus bringing down energy consumption as well as pollution of the environment.

High sanitation is another certain benefit of this trend compared to other housing facilities accommodating huge numbers of people within or in suburban regions of urban centers. As a result of the modern sophisticated approach in architecture, emission, as well as disposal of waste products, is actually not a big bother in high-rise housing facilities. Most of these projects are fitted with facilities that can take care of human by-products and other wastes efficiently by disposing of them appropriately. More importantly, urban high-rise building for a residential purpose helps in minimizing the adverse effects and consequences that are likely to arise from urbanization such as water issues, air pollution, insecurity and poor living standards all of which would be common problems in most conventional housing facilities near big cities or towns.

Major Limitations in the development of high-rise building projects

Despite the uncountable benefits associated with high-rise housing schemes, there are numerous negativities and drawbacks in designing them and this forms the big critique behind the trend. As it would be observed, high-rise buildings have always been despised by many countries and some regions would even go as far as discouraging them for their cities and towns. A good example here is Britain, where authorities involving the Town and County-Planning Associations would previously raise serious propaganda against this modern style of housing. These negative perceptions were fueled by a number of factors that included three major observations as follows: first, the cost of erecting high-rise facilities is relatively high compared to that of low-rise housing schemes; two, some of the dwellings within a tall housing scheme would tend to be detached from the communal forests and gardens; and finally, the trend is an impossible construction design for many people, owing to some unavoidable obvious reasons. One general observation here is that designing and constructing high-rise buildings and skyscrapers normally poses outstanding challenges that must balance a wide range of factors such as financial, engineering and management considerations.

Most skyscrapers and high-rise buildings are much taller than what people can easily manage to walk up thus asking for mechanical transportation for people and objects. In our modern world, where technology is the magical touch of everything, automatically controlled lifts and elevators are the common form of transportation within high-rise buildings. This would be a necessity for every modern skyscraper that is erected anywhere on this earth, but the overall cost of acquiring, installing and maintaining the operating lift machinery is ever prohibitive in the contemporary world. The implementation of tall buildings of any nature is also likely to involve a lot of expensive machine tools and equipment such as escalators and cranes thus making it difficult for individuals and even some governments to embrace the trend, whether for residential or for commercial purposes (Ford 197). The erection and management of high-rise housing structures would largely depend on a constant supply of power or energy to keep electro-mechanical systems in motion. The lack of reliable sources of energy and technological advancement in some regions also remains a big challenge in the implementation of this sophisticated trend of all times. Another big limitation against the implementation of high-rise structures in some regions would be owing to religion and culture-imposed beliefs and taboos which may restrict or suppress the concept of high-rise way of accommodations in their regions.

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Regardless of the many benefits associated with tall buildings, the trend is highly contentious and politicized in many parts. This has led to a scenario whereby the overall benefits are felt and enjoyed by a smaller portion of the global population. According to Richey, there has been much concern in recent years regarding development proposals of high-rise buildings and their implications upon populations in their surroundings (1). Some countries such as the UK are known for their incessant regulation of proposals regarding the construction of tall buildings for the mere excuse of preserving the already existing heritage in their cities. Regulation refers to a rule taken by a particular authority that usually refers to conscious intervention by either the government or a group of organizations. These regulations are of great significance in the management of changes within the built environment. The main objective behind the regulation is to make necessary mediations between the market and the state regarding allocation or provision of land for building, among other uses having a direct link to business. Taking the matter from a more understandable perspective, regulation or simply planning tries to resolve disagreements between the public and property owners who’d be seeking to expand their premises whereby the intervention takes a mutually acceptable way between the two sides.

Concerning high-rise buildings, the principle of regulation takes into consideration the rights of the people who exist in the surrounding of these projects and that of the property owners, while at the same time making critical decisions about the impacts that are likely to sprout when the place of already existing historic context is taken up by new developments. Cities and towns are symbols of the urban life and cultural values of the many people who have dwelled in them and in that case, the regions would need to uphold their distinctiveness by all presumable ways. This is where regulatory measures come in to observe and determine not only the implications of high-rise housing projects on the surroundings but also their presence, shape, vertical length and their wider relationship to the entire built environment. It is this strict nature of the regulatory process which has continued to pose big challenges on the proposal of high-rise developments in some regions. For instance, before the twentieth century, the skyline of London was maintained at a uniformly low height and only St. Paul’s Cathedral and the houses of commons were the only structures punctuating the skyline those days.

However, no matter the limiting factors in the concept of high-rise buildings in some regions, there have been intense attempts of coming up with comprehensive strategies that would embrace the way of urban planning through high-rise structures. There have been increased interests and concerns in the recent past, to introduce high-rise dwellings in urban centers as one way of dealing with the issue of surging global populations without posing any dangers to our ecosystems. A number of European cities that have been against the trend previously such as Manchester, Birmingham and London are now trying to embrace the concept as part of their urban planning strategy. Development of high-rise residential buildings in Britain has started making a comeback in the last few years after the failed high-rise housing schemes of the 60s.

According to Breheny, the UK is observed to be making a remarkable pace towards the achievement of something closer to the high-rise scenario of the 60s with the booming rate of residential towers (45). Since the year 1997, great progress has been witnessed towards the conservation and development of the country and the many facilities lying within. Radical change is observed to be taking shape currently with great commercial as well as residential developments sprouting up in many cities in the UK. Considering the way things are turning out since the year 2001, there is enough evidence that a favorable climate for high-rise residential buildings has finally dawned in the UK. However, other regions such as Singapore, Asia and Hong Kong would reveal a different picture. These regions, which had embraced the trend a long time ago, are distinguished by their high-rise building and skyscraper developments. With nearly half of the seven-billion-plus global population living in cities and towns, the fast advancing sector of high-rise housing projects remains the only convenient solution for the big issue of accommodation in those regions.


The perception of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers as significant components of countries’ progress and development can never be underestimated. As observed from this report, high-rise building around big towns and cities has helped to fuel many principles and standards thus ensuring the economic success of the schemes. Even though the concept of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers was first initiated in Europe and America towards the end of the nineteenth century, the trend had not made any serious developments until the second half of the twentieth century, when countries gradually started incorporating the idea into their urban housing planning programs. It would be realized with immediate concern that, such projects contributed largely to the development of the regions where they were erected. Apart from serving as housing facilities for many people who’d be seeking refuge in urban centers from the less industrialized areas, high-rise facilities also proved to be a great attraction for capitals and investors who are in the rush to invest in the projects (Farouk 82).

As it would be observed, the trend of high-rise buildings was referred to differently from various regions across the world and there was a wide range of reasons as to why different countries would implement it as part of their urban housing plans. In some parts of the world especially in the developing countries, the trend was primarily seen to be a perfect way to express their civilization and progress while to others, it was the most appropriate way to offer housing facilities to rising populations where land space was limited. However, with reasons typically based on inadequate space in urban centers, there is really a need for convenient housing projects to be implemented through high-rise residential schemes. This will take great care of our ecosystems, currently facing big threats of distinction from the imminent effects of suburban sprawls. More importantly, owing to their accommodative nature, high-rise buildings and skyscrapers offer ideal business conditions and therefore are necessary for a country’s continued dynamism in economical matters. The trend of a high-rise building is what we need to embrace for our urban centers, for a better world and environment.

Works Cited

Breheny, Mary. “Densities and sustainable cities: the UK experience.” Cities for the New Millennium. London: Spon 23. 5 (2001): 39-51. Print.

Domosh, Mona. “Imagining New York’s first skyscrapers, 1875—1910.” Journal of Historical Geography 13. 3 (1997): 233-248. Print.

Douglas, George. Skyscrapers: a social history of the very tall building in America. New York: McFarland & Co Inc Pub, 2004. Print.

Farouk, Akram. “High Rise Buildings and How They Affect Countries Progression.” The Economist 334. 7896 (1995): 79-85. Print.

Ford, Larry. “Reading the skylines of American cities.” Geographical Review 82. 2 (1992):180-200. Print.

Gaubatz, Piper. “China’s urban transformation: patterns and processes of morphological change in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.” Urban Studies 36. 9 (2009): 1495. Print.

Helleman, Gerben. and Wassenberg, Frank. “The renewal of what was tomorrow’s idealistic city. Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer high-rise.” Cities 21. 1 (2004): 3-17. Print.

Leiper, Neil and Park, Sun-Young. “Skyscrapers’ influence on cities’ roles as tourist destinations.” Current Issues in Tourism 13. 4 (2010): 333-349. Print.

Lau, Stephen Siu Yu. “Multiple and intensive land use: case studies in Hong Kong.” Habitat International 29. 3 (2005): 527-546. Print.

Maddy, Janssens. Sustainable cities: diversity, economic growth and social cohesion. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009. Print.

Peace, Sheila and Holland, Caroline. Inclusive housing in an aging society: innovative approaches. New York: The Policy Press, 2001. Print.

Richey, Warren. “New Rush of Buildings Reaching for the Clouds.” The Christian Science Monitor (July 8, 1998): 1. Print.

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