Rethinking Tall Buildings

I hate tall apartment complexes. I lived in one for one year when I was in Malaysia. These horrible and monster-like constructions cause eye sore, they are crowded and they are not social-friendly as horizontal buildings. An apartment building should have no more than ten apartments max anything more than that will be a burden on everyone. Those who experienced living in such tall buildings can tell you how many problems they had to deal with. Instead of having a bad neighbor, in tall buildings you may have ten bad neighbors or even more.

The first fifteen years of my life I lived with my family in an apartment.  We were in apartment #10, the last apartment in the building. Each floor had four apartments, except the ground floor had two apartments. That is, the building was two floors high only. All the ten tenants knew each other. It was a very nice and friendly environment. I don’t think you can bond with your neighbors if you live in a 20 or 30 floor building.

It turned out that tall buildings are not just unsocial but they are unsafe as well:

On November 15th, in Shanghai, China, a fire erupted, apparently within construction materials and scaffolding surrounding an occupied 30-story apartment building under renovation. The flames quickly spread to the building itself and soon engulfed the entire structure. Workers and residents scattered down scaffolding, or climbed to the roof, attempting to escape the smoke and flames. Unfortunately, 58 people were unable to escape, losing their lives, and 70 more were injured in the blaze, which was contained within four hours. 

Here are some pictures of this horrible fire from The Big Picture: [see more here]

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8 thoughts on “Rethinking Tall Buildings

  1. Ick. I am with you. After traveling Eastern Europe when it was a Communist enclave, the apartment buildings were so ugly, so barren, so prison-like. And usually the elevators were broken, necessitating a 25 flight of stairs hike home. Depressing

    I will NOT be entering the towers at 6th Circle, nor the Abdali project bil marra. Being from earthquake country, having watched the way they were built, and knowing how wasta infiltrates building codes and enforcement, they will be a disaster waiting to happen. No.Thank.You.

    1. The elevators were the worst nightmare. When you have hundreds of peoples using the same elevator you will expect to see those who come drunk at night and do the unthinkable. Many times it smelled urine or vomit, really.
      Regarding towers in Jordan, I think only Jordanians who are in the States or Americans in Jordan know better about the complexity of managing such towers. Thanks for bringing this issue in. You can hire a German architect and South Koreans builders to build a tower in Jordan it is not a big deal if you got the money. The problem is do we know how to evacuate and rescue hundreds of people in case of emergency? Does the Fire department have tall ladders and hoses to reach the highest floor? I don’t even think tall buildings are manageable in a rich country as UAE so how about a poor country like Jordan. You need to build an infrastructure before building a tall building.

  2. Sad and scary ….may their souls rest in peace
    I used to love the idea of living in a tall building for the nice view mostly, but now after this….no thanks

    As u know there is no tall buildings in Jordan ,the tallest are the 6th circle towers and u can’t consider them tall comparing to this, but even in normal building with 5 floors and 10 apartments like ours , we only know 2 families , the rest even if u met at the elevator they don’t reply at ur greetings

    1. Read Kinzi’s comment and my reply about tall buildings. Unless you live in New york or Chicago the view is not what you expect.
      It seems Jordan is becoming a different country than what I remember how come some neighbors in your building don’t reply the greeting back? That is unheard of in Jordan. It is so sad when urban cities get very big like this. I like living in big cities but I also like to know all my neighbors.

  3. I thought I was familiar with tall buildings until I lived in Hong Kong which has a predominance of tall buildings due to land usage and cost issues. The island and New Territories are so mountainous that only 10% of the total land is built on; most of the rest is country park. Apartment blocks are routine over 40 stories. The flats themselves are small, unless they were built for expats; and the poorest single men live in “cages”, rooms small enough to warrant that name, in giant apartment buildings. Unusually, compared to statistics elsewhere in the world, most deaths by suicide in Hong Kong are by “jumpers” from high levels of apartment buildings.

    When travelling to Singapore we stayed in a hotel on the 86th floor and the breakfast room was on the 92nd. You could feel the building sway–both because of height and as a safety precaution against monsoons and earthquakes.

    Such buildings are an architectural and psychological monstrosity everywhere. The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca wrote of his alienation among the skyscrapers of New York in his famous Poeta en Nueva York (1929-30).

    I hope this type of apartment building doesn’t spread any further, and certainly not in the Middle East.

  4. Skyscrapers may look beautiful on postcards but not to live or work in one. Yes, these building are psychological monstrosity and I hope as well we don’t see them in the Middle East.

  5. Tall buildings are efficient on real estate but not effective in enjoyable living. The closer in distance you are to your neighbors, the closer you are to being annoyed. There are several different problems one can have with a neighbor, especially in tall buildings. is a site that helps people with their neighbor problems.

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