[Mp4] Why Sydney banned skyscrapers?

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Hello from Sydney Australia.

 

This place is beautiful, it’s got the Opera House, it’s got the Bridge, it’s got the stunning Harbour.

 

But one thing you notice when you get here is that there aren’t many skyscrapers.

 

Despite having the economy, the population, geography that should encourage lots of tall buildings rising here. There aren’t very many and they aren’t very big.

 

That is all due to a secret rule keeping Sydney short. A rule’s about to be lifted. And that change could trigger the start of a skyscraper renaissance in down under’s most famous city.

 

First of all, let’s get a couple of things straight: skyscrapers don’t come cheap and they aren’t just built anywhere – just because the city is big or famous doesn’t mean it gets to have a skyline like Manhattan.

 

There are in fact three main factors that usually come together to make tall buildings a necessity: economics, population, and geography.

 

Think Hong Kong, New York and Shanghai with their enormous costs, skyscrapers are essentially economic indicators of how successful a city is.

 

In simple terms, they have to be built by companies that can afford them.

 

To give you an idea, a typical skyscraper in the 2020s costs anywhere from $300 million to more than $1 billion to build.

 

Now, Sydney has no shortage of companies that can afford this. It’s home to 42% of Australia’s top 500 companies, and over 600 multinational companies have their Asia-Pacific headquarters right here.

 

Sydney is the capital of New South Wales – a state that has the largest economy in Australia, making up a whopping 30.6% of the country’s GDP.

 

If you took it out of Australia and made it its own country, New South Wales would have the 19th largest GDP per capita in the world, beating Japan, France and the United Kingdom.

 

Basically, Sydney’s rich, and it’s got money to burn.

 

5,3 million people call this city home and it’s been Australia’s most populous urban centre for more than a century. In fact, it was only overtaken by Melbourne just a few months ago.

 

Because of all that, there’s a definite need for real estate.

 

There are lots and lots of people here who all need homes and offices to work in.

 

Now, while it’s not exactly an apples-with-apples comparison, it’s worth mentioning that the city with the world’s current tallest skyline, Dubai, only has a population of 3 million people.

 

Geographically, the city of Sydney is boxed in on nearly every side.

 

The Harbour almost completely surrounds it, and the Parkland limits the expansion of the central business district.

 

And when you can’t build outwards, you’ve got to build upwards. Skyscrapers simply make sense here – so where are they?

 

Now I know what you’re thinking, what about all those skyscrapers standing right behind me right now? And don’t get me wrong, there are skyscrapers here, it’s just, there aren’t very many and they aren’t very big.

 

Until very recently, no skyscrapers in Sydney stood taller than 235 metres, which isn’t very high if you go and compare them to those in Melbourne, Chicago or even Singapore.

 

So, why has it taken so long for such a prominent, international city to build a skyscraper taller than 235 metres?

 

And why hasn’t a supertall – that is a building higher than 300 metres – been attempted here? Especially when nearby Melbourne already has one with two more on the way.

 

Well to find out we have to turn the clock back more than a hundred years.

 

At the beginning of the 20th century while the US was reaching for the skies, Australia was more reluctant to embrace the skyscraper.

 

When this 14-storey building was first built in 1912, everyone panicked.

 

Despite its modest height now, at the time, nobody had ever seen a building this high, even the fire department was concerned that in an emergency, they wouldn’t be able to reach the upper levels.

 

As a result, the city passed the Height of Buildings Act of 1912, limiting the construction of all new buildings to just 45 metres, or about 13 storeys tall.

 

That forced Sydney to expand its suburbs outwards, and it eventually became geographically larger than all of London.

 

That law wasn’t then changed until 1957.

 

Now, to put all that in context, this was New York’s skyline in 1957, and this was the height that Sydney’s buildings were limited to.

 

But as it turned out there was only one thing that could trump Sydney’s fear of height – the city’s love of icons.

 

In the 1970s, the city built the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere, it’s the 305 metre Centre Point Tower, you can see right there.

 

Now, it’s a shining gold glistening monument of that era and it became one of the biggest tourist attractions down here after the Opera House and the Bridge.

 

From its rotating observation deck, you can see more than 80 kilometres in every direction.

 

But, because it technically isn’t a skyscraper – more a spinning restaurant and viewing platform suspended on a giant pole – it was able to sidestep Sydney’s strict regulations.

 

In fact, fresh rules were put in place to protect the city’s new icon.

 

A law was enacted so nothing could be built taller than the tower, capping every skyscraper at 235 metres.

 

But nothing lasts forever and the first exemption to this rule came in the form of Crown Tower in 2020.

 

It’s a 270-metre skyscraper funded by a casino with a height that exceeds Centre Point observation deck.

 

The fact that deep pockets were able to ignore these rules has raised more than a few eyebrows. Nonetheless, the seal was broken, a precedent was set and there could be no going back.

 

Realising that a 270-metre skyscraper didn’t end the world, Sydney’s century-long skyscraper-phobia quickly came crashing down and the rules were changed again.

 

Now, the new limit for tall buildings is 330 metres, making a supertall in this city suddenly possible for the first time – and we’re seeing a flood of skyscraper proposals: the 263-metre Foster + Partners designed Salesforce Tower, The Renzo Piano designed Barangaroo towers, which recently got a height increase, One Sydney Harbour, the twin tower art deco inspired 338 Pitt Street, the 270-metre 505 George Street and Sydney’s first supertall proposal at 56 Pitt Street, which as of right now has no renderings we can show you.

 

It was originally set to be 314 metres tall but now as the reports, it could be as high as 330.

 

The genie is definitely out of the bottle, but is that a good thing? Weren’t Sydney’s anti-scraper laws kind of protecting the city in a way?

 

Well, in a way, yes, but let’s look at some of the facts.

 

Sydney quite frankly needs the space.

 

Its population is forecast to grow by 60 to 80 percent and reach 8 million people by 2050 and one government study found that raising skyscraper height limits could create more than 2,9 million square metres of floor area – that’s a 30% increase on the current capacity of the central business district.

 

Sydney has protected its Skyline for such a long time, but now the floodgates are open.

 

And whatever gets built here in the years to come will leave a permanent mark on this place. That places a huge amount of responsibility on the fantastic architects and construction teams leading these projects to really get them right.

 

WORD BANK

stunning /ˈstʌn.ɪŋ/ [B2] (adj): lộng lẫy

skyscraper /ˈskaɪˌskreɪ.pər/ (n): tòa nhà chọc trời

economy /iˈkɒn.ə.mi/ [B2] (n): nền kinh tế

population /ˌpɒp.jəˈleɪ.ʃən/ [B1] (n): dân số

lift /lɪft/ (v): dỡ bỏ

trigger /ˈtrɪɡ.ər/ [C1] (v): kích hoạt

renaissance /rəˈneɪ.səns/ (n): sự phục hưng

down under (informal) [C2] (idiom): Australia hoặc New Zealand

skyline /ˈskaɪ.laɪn/ (n): đường chân trời

factor /ˈfæk.tər/ [B2] (n): yếu tố

necessity /nəˈses.ə.ti/ [C1] (n): sự cần thiết

enormous /ɪˈnɔː.məs/ [B1] (adj): to lớn

essentially /ɪˈsen.ʃəl.i/ [B2] (adv): về cơ bản

indicator /ˈɪn.dɪ.keɪ.tər/ [C2] (n): chỉ số

typical /ˈtɪp.ɪ.kəl/ [B1] (adj): đặc trưng

shortage of sth /ˈʃɔː.tɪdʒ/ [B2] (n): thiếu cái gì

headquarter /ˌhedˈkwɔː.tər/ (n): trụ sở

whopping /ˈwɒp.ɪŋ/ (adj): khổng lồ

real estate /ˈrɪəl ɪˌsteɪt/ (n): bất động sản

apples-with-apples (idiom): dùng để chỉ những so sánh hợp lý

expansion /ɪkˈspæn.ʃən/ [B2] (n): sự mở rộng

attempt /əˈtempt/ [B1] (v): thử nghiệm

turn the clock back (idiom): quay ngược đồng hồ

reluctant to do sth /rɪˈlʌk.tənt/ [C1] (phrase): miễn cưỡng làm gì

panic /ˈpæn.ɪk/ [B2] (v): sợ hãi

emergency /ɪˈmɜː.dʒən.si/ [B1] (n): tình huống khẩn cấp

act /ækt/ (n): đạo luật

suburb /ˈsʌb.ɜːb/ [B2] (n): ngoại ô

trump /trʌmp/ (v): đánh bại

hemisphere /ˈhem.ɪ.sfɪər/ (n): bán cầu

glisten /ˈɡlɪs.ən/ (v): sáng lấp lánh

monument /ˈmɒn.jə.mənt/ [B2] (n): tượng đài

era /ˈɪə.rə/ [B2] (n): thời đại, kỷ nguyên

rotating /rəʊˈteɪtɪŋ/ (adj): có thể xoay/quay

observation deck /ɒb.zəˈveɪ.ʃən ˌdek/ (n): đài quan sát

technically /ˈtek.nɪ.kəl.i/ [C2] (adv): về mặt kỹ thuật

suspend /səˈspend/ (v): treo

sidestep /ˈsaɪd.step/ (v): vượt qua

strict /strɪkt/ [B1] (adj): nghiêm ngặt

regulation /ˌreɡ.jəˈleɪ.ʃən/ [B2] (n): quy định

enact /ɪˈnækt/ (v): ban hành

cap /kæp/ [C1] (v): giới hạn

exemption /ɪɡˈzemp.ʃən/ (n): sự miễn trừ

deep pockets (idiom) (n): người/tổ chức có rất nhiều tiền

raise (a few) eyebrows (idiom): gây ra sự bất ngờ

precedent /ˈpres.ɪ.dənt/ [C2] (n): tiền lệ

phobia /ˈfəʊ.bi.ə/ (n): nỗi ám ảnh

a flood of sth [C2] (phrase): hàng loạt cái gì

proposal /prəˈpəʊ.zəl/ [B2] (n): đề xuất

rendering (trong kiến trúc) /ˈren.dər.ɪŋ/ (n): bản vẽ

let the genie out of the bottle (idiom): để thần đèn ra khỏi chai, ý nói cho phép một điều gì đó diễn ra

in a way (idiom): theo một cách nào đó

frankly /ˈfræŋ.kli/ [B2] (adv): thành thật mà nói

floor area (n): diện tích sàn

capacity /kəˈpæs.ə.ti/ [B2] (n): sức chứa

open the floodgates (to/for sth) (phrase): tạo điều kiện cho cái gì phát triển

permanent /ˈpɜː.mə.nənt/ [B1] (adj): lâu dài


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