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An international NGO has recently handed out some peculiar awards for the most useless skyscrapers in the world. This year’s Laureate is a building in Dubai: the Burj Khalifa. Find out what other buildings made it onto this list of shame!

About the NGO: it’s a specialist organisation that is investigating new forms of urban housing. Literally, the “Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat” that goes by the acronym CTBUH.

The criteria examined to select the winners: the proportion of usable building space compared to all the building’s “fluff.” The CTBUH studied buildings in terms of their floor space, floor height and total height of the building. The aesthetic is at no point taken into account. Stunning architectural skyscrapers that embellish a city’s skyline could even find itself on the list of most useless buildings… even winning it!


The winner this year is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai’s city centre. Standing 828 metres tall, it has been officially the tallest building in the world since 2010. It’s the tallest by a long shot with second place at 601 metres (in Mecca) and third at 553 metres (in Toronto).

But what’s there to boast about? Those extra 264 metres are purely aesthetic, uninhabitable and therefore basically unnecessary (if one follows the logic of CTBUH)?

Tallest and most useless

Height isn’t everything. Does that surprise you? We find the largest concentration of these unnecessarily tall buildings in the United Arab Emirates, at least according to this NGO. Next comes China and then the USA.

Here’s the list, the world’s ten most useless skyscrapers: Burj Khalifa (Dubai), Zifeng Tower (Nanjing), Bank of America Tower (New York), Burj al Arab (Dubai), Emirates Tower One (Dubai), Times Tower (New York), Emirates Tower Two (Dubai), Rose Rayhann (Dubai), The Pinnacle (Guanghzou), Minsheng Bank Building (Wuhan).


The top 5 in photos

Number 2: Zifeng Tower, so clouded by air pollution you can't even see it!
Number 3: Bank of America Tower
Number 4: Burj al Arab
Number 5 and 7: Emirates Towers

And the best skyscrapers in the world?

Let’s end this post on a positive, shall we? The NGO also awards the best skyscrapers in the world but there ceremony isn’t until November 7th in Illinois. Dozens of buildings have been nominated around the world. Among the European finalists, London’s The Shard (check it out with our linked post) as well as the Tour Total in Berlin. As for the winner, we’ll have to wait and see.

What’s the tallest skyscraper you’ve ever been up in?

Imgs: PlannedCityJo@netSharon HahnJackie el chanAdnan Gosheh / Flickr cc.

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