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
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
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).
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 continent.
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