Vertical ambitions: The lowdown on UK’s high-rise buildings 

Data recently released by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) indicates that the number of new skyscrapers erected on a global scale dropped more than 20% last year amid pandemic slowdown. Only 106 new buildings measuring 200m or more were constructed last year, the lowest total since 2014. In light of this, Sheridan Lifts, a UK-based lift services provider, offers a retrospective of the top 10 cities in the UK based on their numbers of high-rise buildings, accompanied by a description of the tallest for each city. 

Tony Sheridan, MD of Sheridan Lifts, says, “Once you hear that projects around the world have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, a certain nostalgia kicks in at the thought that our cities’ development and towering ambitions might be halted. We hope that completion levels bounce back this year and take this time to look back at the wonderful projects achieved so far.  These insights could help one acquire a newfound appreciation for the great invention that lifts are, particularly gearless traction lifts in the case of high-risers, allowing us to enjoy the view from the top without losing our breath, just being lost for words.”

Graphic containing top ten cities in the UK according to number of high rise buildings accompanied by the tallest building in each

1. The Shard, London

Perhaps one of the most popular tourist attractions London has to offer, standing tall at 310m, The Shard has rightly earned its reputation among the numerous other skyscrapers. The view is as breathtaking as the air at that altitude. Formerly known as the London Bridge Tower, the construction has gained its name due to the shard-of-glass-like structure sitting at the very top. With 87 floors, the building is large enough to house all its visitors’ fondest memories, from gasping at the sight of the beautiful view, to gasping at the first bite in one of its top-tier restaurants.

 

2. 10 Holloway Circus, Birmingham

Despite the city’s notoriety thanks to the hit TV series “Peaky Blinders”, Birmingham has also gained fame for being the second city after London in the UK with the most high-rise buildings. 10 Holloway Circus that measures 130m is the tallest multi-use high-rise, right after the industrial-purposed structure of the BT Tower. It has 39 floors and a front façade with both impactful glass decorated in “tiger stripes” and aqua coloured camouflage windows.

3. South Tower, Manchester

Unsurprisingly, one of the largest cities in the UK, that also serves as a significant economic centre, is third in line for the title of having most high rise buildings in the UK. The Deansgate Square South Tower, at 201m is the 54th tallest building in Europe, and one of the most recently completed constructions in Manchester as of October 2020. The Beetham Tower, 169m, lost its title to it after a decade of being the tallest in the region.

4. Bridgewater Place, Leeds

Bridgewater Place, affectionately nicknamed the Dalek, after fictional extraterrestrial mutants from British science fiction programme “Doctor Who”, is the tallest high-rise in Leeds at 112m. Although it holds the record for the tallest residential building in Yorkshire, it pales in comparison to the tallest structure in the United Kingdom (even than The Shard), the Emley Moor transmitting tower which is a staggering 324m, located close-by.

5. The Met, Glasgow

Glasgow is known more for its historical charm, than its high-rise buildings, and yet it has landed the fifth spot on this list thanks to their number. The tallest modern building is The Met, a construction completed in 1964 that has a height of 75m – a noticeable difference from the previous 112m one, which is nearly three times smaller than The Shard. The city is considering newer projects to update its skyline, but that’s not to say legacy is to be forgotten, with Glasgow University, built in 1887, still being the tallest building. It does, however, have the biggest science-purposed freestanding structure in the world (127m) that can rotate a full 360 degrees – the Glasgow Tower.

6. The Anaconda Cut, Salford

Connoisseurs will recognise this building as 100 Greengate, and also the former Exchange Court. This is the tallest high-rise in Salford, and fourth in Great Manchester. The impressive 131m and 44-storey skyscraper’s current name, The Anaconda Cut, refers to the snake-like Irwell river between Springfield Lane and Broughton Bridge.

7. West Tower, Liverpool

Upon googling ‘Liverpool’, one might not even come across the city’s descriptive page, let alone its tallest high-rise, but will instead be greeted by pages aimed at football aficionados. Yet, the West Tower is not to be overlooked – completed in a record two years, it’s also the 43rd tallest building in the UK at 140m.

8. St. Paul’s Tower, Sheffield

Sheffield is quite fond of new structures, with its 101m St. Paul’s Tower finalised in 2010. Although it looks nothing like St.Paul’s in London, they’re both visually impressive in radically opposing ways. City Lofts Tower is likely to lose its title, however, as the city has recently approved plans for the Code, poised to steal ‘Yorkshire’s tallest building’ from Leeds as well.

9. Martello Court, Edinburgh

Scotland is generally renowned for its beautiful buildings and historical charm, and as such Edinburgh, like Glasgow, does not have many high-rise buildings. Martello Court’s height is only 64m, being one of the last remaining tall constructions in the area. Unfortunately, it has gained recognition as ‘Terror Tower’ due to the high criminality rate of that location in the 70s.

10. Castlemead, Bristol

Bristol, although right next to the water, which would grant beautiful views for high-rise buildings, regrettably tops this list from the bottom up with the lowest number of such constructions. The 68m building was nearly left unfinished due to a recession in the 70s, and was finished almost 10 years later. The city is, however, in the process of erecting a significantly taller construction, Castle Park View, built across from Castlemead.