China has banned construction of skyscrapers that are taller than 500 meters (1,640 feet) following mounting concerns about public safety over the quality of some projects. Beijing’s premier economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, said in a notice Tuesday, reported Bloomberg.
The top economic planner has also directed local authorities to strictly limit construction of towers taller than 250 metres, citing quality concerns and public safety hazards in some projects stemming from a lack of proper oversight. Construction of buildings exceeding 100 metres will have to be at par with the fire rescue capability and the scale of the city where the buildings will be built.
“It’s primarily for safety,” said Qiao Shitong, an associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong told Bloomberg, adding that skyscrapers “are more like signature projects for mayors and not necessarily efficient,” Only 10 buildings in the world are over 500 metres and half of them are located in mainland China.
These new directives come after the near 300-metre-high (980 ft) Shenzhen Electronics Group Plaza, one of China’s tallest skyscrapers, was evacuated on May 18 after it began to shake. Videos shot by bystanders and shared by local media on Weibo shows the mammoth tower shaking on its foundation as scores of terrified pedestrians ran helter-skelter fearing a collapse.
Building collapses are not rare in China, where lax construction standards and rapid urbanisation lead to constructions being thrown up in haste. Just last year Chinese authorities had banned construction of buildings taller than 500 meters in cities like Beijing, and urged urban planners to construct buildings which “highlight Chinese characteristics” instead of modelling them after world landmarks.