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Global brakes on vertical growth but real estate boom in Asia

MUMBAI: For the first time in six years, the number oftall buildings completed annually around the world shrank in 2012, according to a year-in-review study by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

Sixty-six buildings taller than 200 metres were completed in 2012 — the third most in history — but down from the 82 finished in 2011. On an average, a seven-storey building is around 24m tall.

CTBUH is a source of information on tall buildings. In a report released titled 'Year in Review: Tall Trends of 2012', the council said the number of completions in 2012 was lower than expected.

'Slowdown in West offset by real estate boom in Asia' 

The study conducted by CTBUH found that many under-construction projects were delayed or stalled due to the 2008- '09 global financial crisis in several Western countries. Many of the projects forecast to finish in 2012, though, are expected to be ready in 2013 and 2014, with global completion numbers seen rising again next year, the study found. With the addition of 66 buildings in 2012, the global number of buildings taller than 200 metres has almost tripled since 2000, increasing from 263 to 756 at the end of 2012.

"The recent slowdown in the West was partially offset by the construction boom in the Middle East and rest of Asia, particularly China. In total, 35 buildings taller than 200m were completed in Asia in 2012 and 16 in the Middle East. In contrast, six were completed in North America, including only two in the United States, which once dominated tall building development ," said the report.

Several factors spurred this move toward building towers. The limited availability of land in urban centres drove up prices and prompted developers to build taller to recoup their investments. Several countries, including China , are also in the midst of a dramatic shift from rural to urban economies. In addition , new technologies and building systems are increasing the efficiency of tall buildings, allowing developers to cost-effectively create taller projects, said the study.

The biggest factor, in some cities, is a sharp rise in prices for luxury apartments. In New York, a full-floor apartment in One57, a project still under construction, sold for $90 million in 2012. Forty-one of the tallest 100 projects completed in 2012 featured a residential component. Early in 2012, 23 Marina, Dubai, earned the title of world's tallest residential building at 393m. A few months later, the 413m Princess Tower, also in Dubai, completed construction , taking the title of world's tallest residential building.

'HIGHS' OF 2012 

Saudi Arabia's Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel second tallest building in the world, at 601m Four of the six tallest buildings completed in 2012 are in Dubai Fast-growing China completed 22 buildings taller than 200m in 2012 (33% of global count); US built only two 'Slowdown in West offset by real estate boom in Asia'