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These are the tallest skyscrapers ever constructed.

But while these structures may inspire awe, many of them have achieved their record-breaking

status by using one of architectures most controversial tricks - vanity height.

The term is officially defined as the difference between a skyscrapers highest usable floor

and its pinnacle - and the global ranking of the worlds 10 tallest buildings would

undergo a pretty serious shake-up if it didnt count.

The early 20th century saw many tall buildings include vanity height, partly as a result

of the art deco style popular at the time.

However, as architectural trends moved on, we saw the emergence of skyscrapers that did

away with vanity height in order to maximise floor space.

Controversy seemingly first erupted in 1998 when Chicagos Willis Tower lost the title

of worlds tallest building to Kuala Lumpurs Petronas Towers.

Despite their rooflines sitting some 63 metres lower than the Willis Tower, the Petronas

Towersdecorative spires were included in their official height.

The owners of the Willis Tower argued that if minor additions like these slender pinnacles

can be included, then the substantial antenna on their structure should certainly be counted.

This led the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) to deliver a ruling

on what it considers part of a buildings overall height.

The ruling excluded anything that can be arbitrarily increased in height, such as communication

antenna, but allowed for the inclusion of decorative spires as long as they formed part

of the buildings original design and did not exceed 50% of the structures overall height.

Since then, the heights of several tall buildings have been called into question by professionals

and the public alike - with many architects and developers using pre-designed vanity height

to inflate their projects for prestige and to lay claim to varioustallesttitles around the world.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Dubai - a city which has spent the last 30 years

in the midst of an unprecedented construction boom and that is now home to some of the tallest

structures on Earth.

Striving to make its mark on the world stage, vanity height has become a prolific part of

the citys development and Dubai now holds the title of worldsvainest skyline

- the citys 19 tallest skyscrapers owe, on average, one-fifth of their overall heights to unusable space.

Indeed the worlds current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, officially stands 828 meters

tall - but 244 metres of that is made up of an unusable spire. Some 29% of the building

exists purely to increase its height.

The nearby Burj al Arab became the tallest hotel in the world when it first opened in

1999, claiming the title by way of a 124-metre spire that made up 39% of its height.

This trend and its ensuing controversy is by no means limited to emerging Asian and

Middle Eastern markets.

In the United States, One World Trade Center officially became the third tallest building

in the world when it competed in 2014 and has only fallen three places in the global

ranking since despite appearing dwarfed by several other, more recent skyscrapers.

Over on the west coast, Los AngelesUS Bank Tower was overtaken by the Wilshire Grand

as the tallest building in the city in 2017, despite Wilshires roofline sitting 26 metres lower.

Australias tallest building - Q1 on the Gold Coast - has held the title since 2005,

despite skyscrapers in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane all rising far beyond Q1s 235

metre highest usable floor.

Meanwhile, the Varso Tower will bring the title of Europes tallest skyscraper - outside

of Russia - to Warsaw in 2020, thanks to an 80-metre spire that has been included in the

buildings overall height.

More recently, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has sought to ease tensions

by developing three separate rankings for tall buildings:

Height to Architectural Top,

Height to Highest Floor and Height to Tip.

Despite this, the debate about where to draw the line when we measure tall buildings rumbles on.

The controversy is set to heat up again in 2021 as the 644 metre Merdeka PNB 118 in Kuala

Lumpur becomes the worlds second-tallest building, bumping Chinas Shanghai Tower

into third place.

So, where do you draw the line when measuring skyscrapers? Let us know in the comments below

- and, as always, if you enjoyed this video and would like to get more from the definitive

video channel for construction, subscribe to The B1M.

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