All my years in studying
Urban Planning helped me grow a greater appreciation for the skyline of
the big city. The downtown core of big cities across the world, are the
cultural pulse and economic engines of urban regions where millions of
people live. The skyline is the fingerprint of that city. All urban
life begins each day and ends each night under the watch of the city's
tallest skyscrapers and most grand architectural structures. So kick
back and appreciate the view that they have to offer...
Method to this Madness?
Since skylines are mostly about aesthetic appeal and very subjective,
how can I judge which skylines are the best? Well, there are some rigid
criteria I've used for this list. So here is what they are in order.
VVII: Visual Vertical Impact Index
Style & Organization
Feats & Marvels
Surroundings & Topography
Visual Vertical Impact Index – This is the most important
aspect of skyline. The city must have a man-made vertical set-up or
design, visible against a natural horizon. The way this score is
calculated is each skyline is scaled with one another using a straight
on view (panoramic style), creating a silhouette. Although there is
some subjectivity in the VVII measurement, it is a quantitative method.
It does not only take into consideration height, but more so the visual
impact against a horizon. Let’s examine an example for
City A and City B (both of which are are real cities, by the way).
Skyline A has a skyline
that fills the vertical and horizontal horizon with a mountainous
silhouette where as Skyline B can be described more as trolling hill
with one major peak (the tall building on the right). Overall,
the median perspective (based on 20 evenly spaced plots along each
skyline) of the height and girth of the skyline plays relevance over
strictly height (since Skyline B has the tallest tower). If the dotted
line were a VVII score of 20 (or 200 meters, the maximum), then the
VVII of Skyline A would be (12 VVII), greater than that of Skyline B
(VVII 9). Wikipedia's defines a skyline
as “the overall or partial view of a silhouette of a city's tall
buildings and structures consisting of many skyscrapers in front of the
heaven in the background. It can also be described as the artificial
horizon that a city's overall structure creates". The VVII measures,
that precisely. This is why a city such as Rome (a great city indeed)
cannot be included in this list, as it's VVII would be very low, since
the city is barely visible due to lack of height on a horizontal plane.
Density - Not the population,
but rather the density of the skyline. This is done by measure 20
points in the skylines silhouette (see VVII) and creating a "gap"
analysis of the skyline.
Style/Organization - This is a
more subjective area. However, polls and preferences on major
architectural sites gives us an accurate indication of this. Polls
taken on accredited sites (e.g. Skyscrapercity.com)
for personal preference is also taken into consideration.
Feats/Marvels - The number of
structures over 200 m and other renowned structures that are within the
city are considered in this. City's with record holding structures
(such as first building over 100 stories, etc.) will have a higher
score in this area. Statistics and facts from emporis.com
(the most accredited architectural site) is the predominant source.
Uniqueness - Another subjective
area, however, there is a general consensus amongst experts in the
field on which skylines are the originals and which are the knock-offs.
Surroundings/Topography - This
is the geographic variable, "in front of the heaven in the background"
that skylines backdrop stands before. Also a subjective area, however,
areas with lovely mountains and bodies of water that compliments the
skyline is critical. Additionally geographical representation is in
effect here, there is an attempt to represent cities from every
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