The sky’s the limit when it comes to building. Human imagination and engineering have allowed us to make marvels out of our constructions, from retail stores to towering skyscrapers. Have you ever wondered just how high you can possibly build? Here, we take a deeper dive into the science and technology behind building vertically, as well as its implications on the environment and society.

When it comes to constructing tall buildings, the amount of space they require is relatively small while they can provide human civilization with abundant benefits. High-rises can enable denser urban populations, a huge advantage in areas with limited land resources. Heights also equate to a better skyline and provide a unique architecture aesthetic. Finally, elevating the structure of a building upward gives easy access to natural light and enhanced views.

Taking height limits even further is a concept called “skyscrapers.” Models of these often reach heights that would be unfeasible before the 19th century. Reaching such heights requires a foundation that is stable and capable of supporting the structure. Steel and steel-reinforced concrete are common choices to reinforce the support system. Modern engineering is also able to use the wind to its advantage, so tall buildings do not have to worry about strong winds affecting their balance.

Apart from the engineering aspect, skyscrapers can have numerous implications. These structures may impede sunlight and create shadows, affecting the surrounding environment. There can also be an increase in pollution, especially the heat island effect, due to these high-rises providing extra reasons for industrial activities to take place around them.

Safety needs to be a key concern when constructing tall structures. Fire safety is particularly important for skyscrapers. Multiple safety precautions can be employed to ensure occupants of the building are safe. Fireproofing helps in preventing a fire from spreading from one side of the structure to another, while high-powered sprinklers can be used to keep fires in check.

The trend of embracing skyscrapers is only likely to continue, depending on where in the world the structure is being built on. It is against this backdrop that much of the innovations in high-rise building will take place. While the sky may be the limit, it is no doubt prudent to take a balanced approach to tall structures and remember the implications they can have on the environment and society.