Reaching for the sky 城市摩天大樓 直衝雲端

The London skyline
Image caption What will the London skyline look like in ten years?

Vocabulary: buildings樓房

When you're walking around a city, how often do you look up and admire the view? Many of us are in too much of a rush to appreciate the architecture all around us.

Cities are always growing, and when space is at a premium, they expand upwards – reaching for the sky. The skylines of many modern cities are full of skyscrapers: landmarks that can be seen for miles around.

These iconic buildings are often must-see sights for tourists and locals alike. New York has its Empire State Building and the glitzy skyscrapers of Manhattan. Dubai has the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, which stands at 828 metres; and Shanghai has the world's number two with the completion of the Shanghai Tower. London hasn't always been associated with the race for vertical expansion, but since the opening of Canary Wharf tower in the city's Docklands area, the development of high-rise buildings has been unstoppable.

Now London boasts new skyscrapers with quirky nicknames that reflect the shapes of the buildings - like the Gherkin, the Cheese Grater and the Walkie Talkie. Standing tall amongst them is the Shard – and at 309 metres it's Europe's tallest building.

But they are not loved by everyone. While some prefer them to uninspiring rows of office blocks, others say they obstruct the sightlines of old-fashioned landmarks and that they threaten London's cultural identity. Some say they're just plain ugly!

A group of high-profile Londoners, politicians, artisans and academics are now campaigning to halt certain high-rise developments. Jonathan Glancey, an architecture and design critic and writer, says: "The sad thing is that the quality of the 200 buildings proposed is remarkably low, like weeds in a garden, like Japanese knotweed spreading across the city, and it's something that needs to be stopped."

Of course change and development is inevitable in any growing city. Demand for living, office and retail space is increasing, but why is the only way up? Could London become a city that pioneers building downwards, for example?

What do you think? Should we be building bigger and taller skyscrapers in our cities?