Skyscrapers, don’t you immediately think about Burj Khalifa? Well, there’s competition. When completed, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will stand as the world’s tallest building at 3,304 feet tall. 

Skyscrapers are mysterious to us, so here are some facts to enlighten you.

1. Skyscrapers Have Limitations

Limitations with the height: Due to the curvature of the Earth which requires both the base and height of a skyscraper to have a limit regarding how tall a skyscraper you can build. The main harm is with the wind that hits this skyscraper. 

Builders can be sure that the building won’t be damaged by winds if they pay attention to the types of materials used, the shape of the structure, and climatic factors, etc. Limitation for building a skyscraper w.r.t to more than half the volume of a skyscraper must be habitable.

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© Gallery of The 10 Different Ways to Measure a Skyscraper’s Height – 3 (

2. Some Tall Buildings Can Burn You Alive

The infamous “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper in Central London has a curved, concave surface on one side as a part of its design. It is a perfect oven because the sunlight reflects on that side, its windows concentrate the light into a heat ray. After incidents with the design, the building was later equipped with structures to dissipate the reflected light. 

The Vdara Hotel, built by the same architects, has the same design flaw, with windows that concentrate sunlight. In this case, the rays were aimed directly at the pool area, visitors at the hotel suffered serious skin burns while in the water. In the end, the hotel solved the problem by placing giant umbrellas above the pools.

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© Fenchurch Street London AKA The Walkie Talkie – Photorator

3. Skyscrapers Affect Weather

Skyscrapers can alter the patterns of wind currents in the area. “Wind tunnels” that blow hard at ground level are created by skyscrapers close to each other. The building acts as a wall and so when there’s a part of the wind that’s loaded with chemical pollutants, it rises into the atmosphere. The effects mostly depend on the height where the wind current is generated. 

Materials such as concrete or brick, used in buildings, are good absorbers of solar radiation. So during the day, the huge skyscraper absorbs the heat from the sunlight. Later, during the night, the skyscraper’s heat gets into the surrounding air, resulting in the temperature of the city remaining high. This keeps the city comparatively warm. 

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© How Can Acid Rain Affect Buildings? Know In Details! – The Weather Station (

4. Skyscraper Occupants Age Faster

Surprisingly enough a person ages faster by living on the top of a tall building. This is because of an extraordinary physical phenomenon called gravitational dilation; when we move away from the Earth, time goes faster for us. So, a person who lives in a skyscraper for most of his life would age a few seconds faster than a person at ground level. Luckily, this age difference between both people is very insignificant.

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© Toronto’s notorious rooftopper survives yet another death-defying encounter with skyscrapers as he captures the city from 1,000ft up | Daily Mail Online

5. Secret Is In The Foundation

A strong base for a skyscraper comes from the base itself, literally. A substructure is what makes the skyscraper strong. It supports the entire skyscraper and keeps it standing and sturdy. Foundations have to be made by blasting into the bedrock to build a sturdy base for the skyscraper. Petronas Image 5_Towers have the world’s deepest foundations which are 114 meters deep.

© File:2016 Kuala Lumpur, Petronas Towers (10).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

6. Nature For Inspiration

Mound termites, which are found in Africa, South Asia, and Australia, build mounds that are covered in tiny holes. The tiny holes allow fresh air to enter and keep the mound cool. Now architects are studying the termites’ design skills to create a skyscraper with a ventilation system that’ll work the same way as they do in mounds.

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© Termites: Guardians of the Soil – The New York Times (

7. Skyscrapers can cause Earthquakes

It is proven that tremors aren’t caused only by geological events, such as tectonic shifts but can also be caused by large-scale human actions, such as mining or nuclear explosions. Taipei 101 in Taiwan is seen as an example here. 

Prior to the completion of Taipei 101, the locality was a non-earthquake-prone zone, but when the skyscraper was completed, this pressure spread across the area and triggered the earthquake. Therefore, these heavy structures of these buildings create huge pressure on the Earth’s crust below.

©How to protect in earthquakes? – Geo Studies

8. Terminology 

The word skyscraper was first used nearly only a century and a half ago or so. To be a skyscraper, the minimum number of floors a building requires is 40. A skyscraper is also called a high-rise, however, sometimes the term skyscraper can also be used to describe buildings over 150 meters or 492 feet. 

There are separate terms for buildings above 300 meters or 984 feet and 600 meters or 1,969 feet; they are Supertall and Megatall respectively. Skyscrapers are also known as “vertical cities:.

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©5 Skyscrapers We Can’t Wait to See Complete in 2019 (

9. Skyscraper Day

There is a day designated to celebrate skyscrapers all over the world. The first skyscraper was built in 1885 and was 10 storeys tall. Today, skyscrapers have to be over 100 floors. September 3 was chosen as a global commemorative day for skyscrapers. This date was chosen because it’s the birthday of Louis H. Sullivan, who’s known as the father of skyscrapers. He is said to have designed the first ones.

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© Louis Sullivan Collection | The Art Institute of Chicago (

10. The Sway

So the concrete that’s used to make these tall buildings are strengthened with steel rods and beams. The steel in the skyscraper makes up the skeleton. It stops the building from swaying too far, helping the structure to face heavy winds. Like most skyscrapers, they are designed to sway and have been known to move three feet. One way is to put hundreds of tons of ballast at the top of the towers to limit their motion.

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©The skyscraper sway detector | WIRED UK




Tanvee Abhyankar, currently studying interior design, keeps a keen interest in art history, monument conservation, architectural works of ancient India. She likes to experience structures and learn about them. Often wonders where the origin of things lies and loves to travel.