36 skyscraper designs that beat the Burj Khalifa

Where will the world's next tallest tower be built, and the next one?

The Burj Khalifa still tops the world
The Burj Khalifa still tops the world
Miami's Miapolis.
Miami's Miapolis.
The Kingdom Tower
The Kingdom Tower
Seoul's Sewun International Finance Centre
Seoul's Sewun International Finance Centre
The Buenos Aires Forum
The Buenos Aires Forum
The Ultima Tower
The Ultima Tower
The X-Seed 4000
The X-Seed 4000

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Since its official launch in 2010, there has been much talk about where the next Burj Khalifa topping skyscraper will be built.

Two leading contenders have emerged over recent months: the 1000m+ Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, and the 1050m-tall Azerbaijan Tower in the nation’s capital of Baku.

Of the two, it appears with Kingdom Tower will be the first to surpass the Burj Khalifa’s construction peak. Foundation work is already underway, and the final license from Jeddah municipality to build the tower was formally received on February 19.

In Azerbaijan, construction work on infrastructure surrounding what is hoped will become the world’s tallest building is underway. The project was announced earlier this year and will be built as part of the $100bn Khazar Island masterplan, a development that will feature 41 man-made islands linked with more than 150 bridges.

The tentatively named 185-storey Azerbaijan Tower will stand 1050m tall, dwarfing Dubai’s 828m-tall Burj Khalifa.

While it may be the tallest building in the world at present, designs for more than 30 towers that surpass the Burj’s summit have been produced over the years. The following pages break those down in to the following sections:

Topping the Burj: Towers proposed at 828-999m
Kilometre-high towers
Breaking through: 1100-1599
Mile-high club: 1600-1999m
Two-kilometres and climbing
Peak performance: the tallest towers ever proposed

Next: Topping the Burj

Topping the Burj: 828-999m
Believe it or not, there have been 36 towers proposed that would surpass the Burj’s completed height – 10 of them between 828-999m tall. None of them have ever got beyond the planning stages, but it’s interesting to note just where they’ve been proposed.

The Buenos Aires Forum was the tallest of them. Standing at 999m, the 200-storey spiral-form tower would be the centre-piece of a proposed seven island development in the Rio de La Plata, connected to the mainland by a 5km bridge.

According to the project’s architect Julio Torcello, the tower represents "geometrical image of the human genome". The project was expected to cost $3.3bn to construct, and work was scheduled to begin in 2010 with a 2016 completion date.

The Sewun International Finance Centre was another enormous mixed-use tower project planned. Very little information exists about the project, but it was a number of business mega-developments planned for the South Korean capital prior to the global financial crunch.

At 965m-high, the tower was planned to have 223-storeys. Its status is unknown at present, but some websites claim the project has been scrapped altogether.

Miami’s 914m tall Miapolis was designed by Florida-based architecture firm Kobi Karp, the company that also designed the ambitious Dubai Promenade which was also never built and the Steve Madden outlet at the Dubai Mall that was. The 160-storey mixed-use tower was designed to be built alongside the McArthur Causeway on Watson Island, in the middle of Biscayne Bay.

Interestingly, the northern UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah threw its hat into the tall tower ring when it announced 875m tall Spire at Ras Al Khaimah project in 2008. Designed as part of the 14-tower Gateway City Towers mega project by Chicago- based architects Murphy/Jahn, the Spire featured an innovative solar-power network that would provide electricity to power the building systems.

The list of towers: 828-999m

Buenos Aires Forum Buenos Aires, Argentina 999m
Sewun International Finance Centre Seoul, South Korea 925m
Miapolis Miami, USA 914m
M Tower Shanghai, China 900m
Sepet Gokdelen Istanbul, Turkey 900m
Kinetic Tower Chicago, USA 890m
Seiren 21 Kinoike, Japan 880m
The Spire at Ras Al Khaimah, Ras al Khaimah, UAE 875m
Erehwon Centre Chicago, USA 841m
Millennium Tower Tokyo, Japan 840m

Next: Kilometre-high towers

Kilometre-high towers
For many tower builders, the 1,000m/1km mark has been the next goal for their designs. According to records kept by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, seven towers have been designed to hit that target, including Jeddah’s Kingdom Tower – the only one currently under construction.

It’s important to note also that the Kingdom Tower’s final height has not yet been made public, but Kingdom Holding has said that the tower will stretch a minimum of 1,000m into Jeddah’s skyline. As it was also known as the Mile-High Tower, designed by Pickard Chilton, this has also caused a little confusion over the final height.

We’ve already carried fairly comprehensive coverage of the tower’s progress to date which you can find at the links highlighted below, but just this week it was announced that the building would be completed within a 63-month construction window. If contractors keep to that schedule, the rate of construction on the Kingdom Tower will be faster than the Burj Khalifa’s.

`The tower was designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with associate architecture carried out by Dar al-Handasah Shair and Partners. Structural engineering was completed by Thornton Tomasetti, MEP engineering by Environmental Systems Design, Inc, and the building’s main contractor is the Saudi Bin Laden Group.

It may not, however, keep its record for long. While its final height is a closely guarded secret – understandable given the nature of the project – the next likely tower to threaten the Burj Khalifa’s status as world topper is the Azerbaijan Tower in Baku.

Very little is known about the project other than its target height of 1050m, but developer the Avesta Group is confident it has the backing and impetus to construct its landmark tower. Start of construction is slated for 2016.

Other towers to target the 1km mark include:
Murjan Tower, Manama, Bahrain, 1,022m
Burj Mubarak Al Kabir Madinat Al Hareer, Kuwait 1,001
One Dubai Tower A Dubai, UAE 1,000m
Nakheel Tower Dubai, UAE 1,000m
The Spiral Tokyo, Japan 1,000m
Sky City 1000 Tokyo, Japan 1,000m
Super Pyramid Japan 1,000m

Next: Breaking through: 1100-1599m

Breaking through: 1,100-1,599m
For many, the 1km mark isn’t lofty enough – nor are the technical demands of construction at dizzying heights.

For Shanghai-Madrid concern Cervera and Pioz, the answer lies in mimicking natural forms and structures. They’ve developed a “Sustainable Vertical Bio-Structure project: a building which can be up to 1,220m high and therefore makes possible a new urban model of Megacities that are both sustainable and based on human values”.

It’s an interesting concept that you can read more about here (http://cerveraandpioz.com/profile_v.htm).

The T1 Tower project designed for London was penned by firm Populararchitecture and seems more a publicity stunt than genuine project. Resembling an enormous holey toilet roll, the firm says the structure is designed to house 100,000 people. Wait. There’s more.

According to the firm’s website, "It is conceived not as a building so much as a vertical extrusion of the city”.

It gets better. “The tower is broken up into a hierarchy of municipal areas. The smallest; the neighbourhood occupies a single floor - approximately 600 people, the next; the village covers 20 floors and approximately 6000 people. The tower is finally divided into three super-districts; upper, mid and lower of 33,000 people each. All these divisions would have democratically elected representatives at local government. The tower as a whole would have an MP sitting in the houses of parliament. In this way, the tower mimics the city both politically and in the idea of a hierarchy of communities.”

If you’d like to read more about this project, click here .

For the record, the list of towers that lie between 1100-1599m in height include:
T1 tower, London , UK 1501m
Pyramid-In-Pyramid Singapore 1501m
Mother, Tokyo, Japan 1321m
Bionic Tower, Hong Kong, China 1128m
Bionic Tower, Shanghai, China 1128m
Orbita Residence Sao Paulo, Brazil 1112m

Next: Mile-high club

Mile-high club: 1,600-1,999m
Pressing through to the mile-high limit has been a goal for at least three developers. Again, plans for these towers have not progressed past the concept stage, but they have sparked debate and, in the case of The Illinois, have been credited with inspiring other designs such as the Burj Khalifa.

Frank Lloyd Wright penned the design for the Illinois - known also as the Mile High Illinois and Illinois Sky-City – which he envisioned would be more than four times the height of the Empire State Building and almost twice the height of the Burj Khalifa.

The design would have included 528 storeys, with a gross area 1,715,000m2. Technical limitations, such as the flexibility of steel, provisions for elevators and emergency staircases were among many of the concerns that Wright faced in designing the tower.

Mile-high towers
Al Hosaini Tower Port Sudan (SD) 1750m
Houston Pinnacle Houston (US) 1611m
The Illinois Chicago (US) 1609m

Next: Two-kilometres and climbing

Two-kilometres and climbing
In August 2011, chairman of the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat told CW that it is now structurally feasible to build a tower that is twice the height of Jeddah’s 1km-tall Kingdom Tower.

Dr Sang Dae Kim, said: “With the Kingdom Tower we now have a design that reaches around 1km in height. Later on, someone will push for 1 mile, and then 2km.”

He continued: “At this point in time we can build a tower that is 1km, maybe 2km. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework.”

Kim said that while it was possible to do so, building at such heights was impractical to build a 2km-high tower.

“In terms of practicalities, we don’t need to built at 2km. At this height you have to provide a large percentage of elevator space and this is impractical. But someone with a lot of money might still want to do it.”

He pointed out that building at such height will incur many structural challenges. “There might be constraints for the structural engineering – we don’t know many things. When you go up to one of two kilometres, we don’t have much information surrounding the wind conditions.”

Interestingly, there have been more towers proposed over 2km high than there are between 1500-1999m, an indication that these are more design studies and proposals than genuine, ready to go, construction projects of merit.

Proposed towers over 2km tall
Dubai City Tower Dubai (AE) 2,400m
Hexahedron City Scottsdale (US) 2,101m
Houston Tower Houston (US) 2,092m
Try 2004 Tokyo (JP) 2,005m
Aeropolis 2001 Tokyo (JP) 2,001m

Next: The tallest towers ever proposed

Peak performance: the tallest towers ever proposed
From the sublime to the ridiculous, the two tallest towers ever envisioned include the two-mile high (3,214m) Ultima Tower, and the X-Seed 4000, an enormous 4km high dream planned for Tokyo and designed to look like a man-made Mount Fuji.

It’s cheeky too. Making a preliminary sketch on a piece of paper doesn’t make a project real. All it does is gets you bragging rights which, in these two cases, seems was the aim of the endeavours.

Eugene Tsui proposed his $150bn Ultima Tower in 1991 and while his website is fairly impressive, the scale of the project is enough to shock the world in to a triple dip recession.

Still, you have to admire the vision – even if it will never make it off the drawing board. At 500-storeys high, and with $1.5bn cubic metres of enclosed space, the project dwarves anything else imagined.

That is, of course, unless you count the X-Seed 4000 which, effective takes the Ultima and adds another Burj Khalifa to its overall height.

The X-Seed 4000 was proposed by the Taisei Corpoation in 1995 and was never meant to be built, according to experts. The reasons for that are numerous: geologically, it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so would be subject to earthquakes and tsunamis. The build cost would exceed $1trillion, making it an enormous financial risk for all concerned. In fact, at 4000m high, with would be taller than the 3776m-high Mount Fuji itself.

Still, it’s nice to know there are dreamers out there – even if they’ve simply got there first by drawing something on paper.

The tallest buildings ever proposed
X-Seed 4000 Tokyo (JP) 4,000m
Ultima Tower any takers 3,214m


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