Friday, June 11, 1999 Published at 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
The madness of height
If ever there was a time when nations would be more inspired than ever to enter the unofficial competition to build the world's tallest building, the approach of a new millennium must be it.
So architects in Brazil, China, Australia and Hong Kong have all drawn up plans for monuments that will surpass the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which currently hold the highest building title.
The 494m Sao Paulo skyscraper, costing £2bn, will consist of four towers with a hollow centre, arranged on 103 floors, including flats and offices for 50,000 people, four hotels, a university, a convention centre and giant car park.
Building work is scheduled to take place from 2000 to 2005, by which time it should raise the city's international profile, say supporters. Few could argue with that.
Shanghai launched its bid for fame with a World Financial Centre, which, if it is ever finished, will also soar above the Petronas Towers.
But completion of the work has been delayed by regional economic crises. And during the wait, Taipei has also unveiled plans for a financial centre to rival its claim.
Not to be outdone, Melbourne in Australia has revealed a blueprint for a 560m tower.
Work will start around 2000 and take about four years, according to the developer, Bruno Grollo. The company has four months to satisfy planning conditions.
Rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney has always driven the two cities to outdo each other. After the Sydney Opera House was built, a Melbourne developer proposed a kangaroo-shaped building with a helicopter pad in the pouch area.
But as the race goes on, Hong Kong will snatch the title if new plans for a 574m Kowloon Landmark tower go ahead.
This 97-storey edifice would resemble a huge, sharp silver pencil pointing skywards, illuminated at night and clad in shimmering glass.