Published: June 15, 2022

A recent article published by the Guardian explores the new type of high rise developments that are evolving across the skylines of Australian CBD’s: the skinny skyscraper.

Following on from the trend seen in particular in New York and Hong Kong, the rising costs of land coupled with the exceedingly limited land availability in Sydney and Melbourne CBD’s has led to this new form of skyscraper which provides sky high buildings that are coupled with impossibly narrow street fronts.

You might already recognise the Phoenix Apartment Tower in Flinders Street (image 1) that was the first skinny scraper to land in Melbourne over ten years ago and which is soon to be outdone by the new Pencil Tower hotel in Sydney which will boast a 100-metre-high building with and small 6.4 metre frontage (Image 2).

Although impressive, the skinny skyscraper does not come without challenges with limited space for service and lift areas as well as the potential dangerous impact that strong winds can have on the stability of the buildings.

In response to these challenges, designs are increasingly creative featuring compact rooms accompanying large communal areas to provide for the loss of private space that you would see in a typical sized apartment (the average Pencil Hotel room (Image 3) will be only 13 square metres in size!).

We can expect that these luxury apartments and hotels with sweeping horizon views to cater to the higher end of the property market which from a planning perspective, will challenge the pressing need for affordable housing for smaller one to two person households within proximity to metropolitan centres.

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Nevertheless, we await to see if this will unfold a new iconic skyline for Melbourne

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