Sky no longer the limit for China towers

China is prohibiting the construction of extremely tall skyscrapers to ensure safety following mounting concerns over the quality of some projects.

The ban covers buildings taller than 500 meters, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a notice.

Local authorities will also need to limit the building of towers that are more than 250m tall.

In comparison, the title of the tallest building in Hong Kong goes to the International Commerce Centre at 484m.

China’s top economic planner cited quality problems and safety hazards in some developments stemming from loose oversight.

SEG Plaza, a 72-story tower in Shenzhen, was closed in May following reports of wobbling, feeding concerns about the stability of one of Shenzhen’s tallest buildings. Construction of buildings exceeding 100m should match the scale of its city and its fire-rescue capability, the commission said.

“It’s primarily for safety,” said Qiao Shitong, an associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong. Extremely tall buildings “are more like signature projects for mayors and not necessarily efficient.”

Authorities imposed an “in-principle” ban on new towers over 500m last year.

There are only 10 buildings in the world exceeding that height and five of them are in the mainland, including the 632m Shanghai Tower.

SEG Plaza’s shaking prompted the local government to investigate and led to a warning from the US consulate in Guangzhou urging Americans to avoid the area.

The building remains closed.

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