Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr Ian Skelton


Innovation in construction techniques for tall buildings

Project Title

Building Tall Buildings - Innovation in the UK

Sponsoring Company

Borvis Lend Lease


Dr Peter Demian
Prof Jacqui Glass

Mr David Fisher
Mr Matthew Locke

Director of Research:
Prof Stephen Ison

Research Period

April 2006 - March 2010

Building Tall Buildings - Innovation in the UK

Tall Buildings are symbols of wealth and technical advancement. They are back in fashion and every city in the UK, it seems, is planning one. London is leading this trend and predictions are that a new tall building will appear on its skyline every year until 2020.

Pioneering cities around the world are currently designing and constructing buildings that reject conventional limitations of tall building design, with structures that tower, taper, tilt and twist in ways never before though feasible.

This brings new and unprecedented challenges to the builders: commercial feasibility must be achieved; technological obstacles must be overcome; cutting edge design must be converted into a built reality; risk of cost and programme overrun must be minimised; safety of builders and occupants must be ensured.

This Engineering Doctorate will explore the challenges that face the builder of tall, increasingly irregularly shaped structures across the globe and determine new solutions for the UK.

To date there has been very little research in this building arena, in contrast to the voluminous research on the design of tall buildings. This EngD aims to redress that imbalance.

Aims and Objectives

The objectives of the research include:

  • Identify key issues, components and problems inherent in the discipline of building tall buildings. Undertake a literature review and profile the UK market.
  • Develop a framework to capture this key information from key project personnel in the UK.
  • Apply this tool to research and corral international high rise project experience, within and external to Bovis Lend Lease.
  • Distil the international survey information to highlight key 'wins and losses' per project per target country.
  • Develop fast, innovative and safe construction techniques / methods to overcome one or a number of the root causes of construction 'losses' and that respond to the latest design demands.

Method and Current Status

The research methodology will have two main stages:

Stage 1: International Best Practice High Rise Research (Background Theory and Focal Theory)
Stage 2: Innovative Research Section (Data Theory and Contribution)

The first stage of international research is to understand the current high rise construction market and catalogue best practice techniques both within and external to BLL, allowing comparisons across the globe to be drawn. This will potentially highlight areas lacking a cutting-edge or state-of-the-art approach, allowing Stage 2 of study to focus on one or a number of these aspects and the creation of an innovative solution for high-rise building, or the adaptation and importing of a technique foreign to the UK.

Benefits and Expected Outcomes

This research is closely aligned with the current Bovis Lend Lease business strategy, will be seen as a key differentiator in winning work and its outcomes will be a valuable resource in developing best practice solutions to meeting future tall building challenges. There are 11 major outputs of this research agreed with Loughborough University and Bovis Lend Lease.


Skelton, I.R. … et al. (2010). Lifting Wing in Constructing Tall Buildings -Aerodynamic Testing, Buildings 2014, 4, pp. 245-265. [doi:10.3390/buildings4020245].

Skelton, I.R. … et al. (2009). Britain's tall building boom: Now bust, Structures and Buildings 162(3), pp. 161-169. [DOI: 10.1680/stbu.2009.162.3.161].

Skelton, I.R. … et al. (2009). Tall Building Boom - Now Bust? Proceedings of the Fifth International Structural Engineering and Construction Conference (ISEC-5)., Fifth International Structural Engineering and Construction Conference (ISEC-5), Las Vegas, 22-25 September 2009. Las Vegas.

Skelton, I.R., Bouchlaghem, N.M., Demian, P. and Anumba, C.J., ''The state-of-the-art of building tall'', Taylor Francis Group, London, Fifth International Structural Engineering and Construction Conference (ISEC-5), Las Vegas, N.V., 25th September 2009, 657-662, ISBN 978-0-415-56809-8.



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+44 (0)1509 222623

The Centre Administrator
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

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