Hong Kong has the Best Skyline in the World

Yes. We’ve done it. Hong Kong officially has the worlds best skyline, at least according to Emporis. Though the method is disputed, the acheivement cannot be. And by the looks of it, we’ve won the prize by a mile.

From the SCMP: Dec 29, 2011

HK skyline on top of the world

Hong Kong’s skyline has been crowned the best in the world, beating New York, Singapore and Shanghai, but some claim the ranking is shallow because the criteria is based purely on building heights and floor counts. Emporis, an online database of properties worldwide, compiled the list based on a points system. Every building with at least 12 floors was given a score. The best skyline, in terms of visual impact, was the city with the highest score. A spokeswoman from Emporis said the ranking aimed to assess the “impressiveness of skylines of booming cities around the world using an algorithm that measures the mixture of height and breadth of a skyline”.

According to the ranking, Hong Kong was by far the most impressive, with three times the points of New York City. Chicago, Singapore and Sao Paulo rounded out the top five. Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Beijing and Macau were included in the top 25.

But academics and harbour activists say judging a city’s skyline on height alone was a crude measurement that did not take into account the surrounding environment. “What makes Hong Kong’s skyline our icon is the fact that it is unique for more than just as a collection of high rises,” said Paul Zimmerman, chief executive of Designing Hong Kong and a member of the Harbourfront Commission. “The juxtaposition between the man-made and the mountains makes it very interesting, and the fact that so many people have a view of the skyline; no other city has this.”

“But the quality of skyscrapers – as in their contribution to the quality of a city – is not the height but how they interface at the street level.” “Those who have walked the streets around ICC, IFC and Exchange Square know that many of our tall buildings contribute little to a better quality of life or a more liveable city.”

Lai Poh-chin, associate professor in geography at the University of Hong Kong, said the overall beauty of a skyline was also important. “Buildings are important, but it’s a lot more than that,” she said. “It’s when you stand on the ground, or on a deck of a top building and look at the view – the impression a skyline gives you.” Lai also warned that the city’s signature look needed more protection, suggesting the government should impose tariffs on developers building close to the harbour and limit the height of high-rises.

The Planning Department has published guidelines that aim to preserve unique qualities of Hong Kong’s skyline – like the view of ridgelines and peaks on Hong Kong Island – while still allowing development.

Lai added that visibility and air pollution were another challenge: “Even if we have the most beautiful skyline, it’s useless if you can’t see it.”